From Cardinal Seán’s blog

Meeting with seminarians

On Wednesday, I met with the seminarians at St. John’s for an evening of prayer. I meet with them occasionally and we always have a holy hour, dinner and then a conversation.

This time, I gave them a talk about Our Lady of Guadalupe -- it was her feast day -- and the role of the priest in building unity in the community. I spoke about how the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe, who came in the form of an indigenous woman, helped to break down the barriers that had stood in the way of the evangelization of America.

Today, we also face many barriers in our very secularized culture, but we have to know how to break those down and to build unity. I talked about the first great challenges in the Church. The first Council of Jerusalem is called in the Acts of the Apostles to confront the kinds of tensions that came about because of the ethnic differences in the community. The variety of seminarians we have here in Boston, I think helps the men to learn how to embrace the catholic -- universal -- nature of our Church.

After my talk, there were many interesting questions. The seminarians wanted to know about the new ministry to youth that is being organized in the archdiocese through a new department for the new evangelization of youth. They were enthusiastic about that. Some of them asked about the school 2010 Initiative and the implications for Catholic education as we go forward. Other seminarians talked about their upcoming trip to Peru to visit our men in the Missionary Society of St. James who are currently serving there.

This time, they did not take any pictures of the evening, but later they sent me the following photo, taken a couple of days later, as some of them were digging out after the first winter storm of the season that left around one foot of snow at St. John’s.

We have a group of new seminarians from South East Asia at St. John’s this year and, I am told, this was the first time they saw snow... and the first time they had to shovel it, lol.

Visit to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

My friends John and Claire Bertucci, who are members of the board of trustees of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, invited me to have a tour of the museum last week.

I enjoyed the tour, and it is wonderful to think that we have this grand resource here in Boston that does so much to promote knowledge and appreciation of the arts, particularly among students. Some of our Catholic schools are very tied into the programs of the museum.

I had never been to the museum before, and I was very impressed by its beauty and the number of paintings, particularly the altar pieces and vestments that obviously came from our Catholic tradition.

It was interesting to see how the interior courtyard had been made by bringing actual balconies from Venice.

I noticed that one of the balconies in the courtyard even had a coat of arms with a Franciscan symbol on it, as I have on my own -- the crossed arms of St. Francis and Christ.

The Church has always been involved in promoting art, music and architecture as a way of manifesting for people a glimpse of God’s beauty. The beauty of art helps people to understand God’s beauty and His goodness. This can attract people to God.

Also in this week’s blog:

> Catholic Charities Greater Boston annual Christmas Dinner

> Installation of Father Walter Carreiro as pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Cambridge

> Advent Mass at Holy Family Parish, Amesbury

> Christ Speaks in the City