Tuesday, May 15, 2012
I went to St. Charles Seminary in first year high school. The high school years and two years of college went pretty smoothly. I was very strict in my obedience to the rule. I got an excellent education in the humanities. I really liked English literature and ancient history. I came to like Shakespeare, classical music and Broadway musicals.
In these years I grew in prayer, sampling different kinds. Since St. Paul was my patron, I tried to understand some of his Letters. Two quotes that struck me then and have had a profound influence on my whole life were:
"By the grace of God I am what I am, and God's grace in me has not been in vain." (1 Cor. 15:10)
"I live, now not I, but Christ lives in me." (Gal. 2:20)
I finished my last two years of college at St. Mary's in the heart of Baltimore, the oldest seminary in the country. Philosophy was the low point of my academic career. But the highpoint was having Father Gene Walsh as my confessor. He helped me in the very beginnings of my growth. When I found out that my confessor at St. Charles had warned his penitents not to take Walsh as their confessor, I asked that confessor why. He said, "I already knew you were lost to the liberals." Through Walsh I became interested in Liturgical Reform. He took several of us to two annual Liturgical Conventions. In 1957-58 we were already pushing for the reforms that were finally made by Vatican Council II about 8 years later.
St. Mary's, Roland Park, was where I spent four years studying theology. It was here that I began to chafe under the rule and began to see how the seminary had retarded my growth as a person by demanding conformity. Our text books were in Latin and extremely outdated. The only really up to date courses that we had were in Scripture. One semester was the Gospel according to John taught by the exceptional scholar, Father Raymond Brown. Teachers sometimes recommended up to date books in English, like Durwell's "Resurrection." Our fat moral theology teacher came in class one day, patted his belly, and said he was glad to see we finally had a normal sized man as pope.
Pope John 23rd opened Vatican Council II on October 11, 1962, about five months after I was ordained a priest.