Sunday, July 29, 2007


I was talking to someone during my trip home about the studies I am doing at the ITI and what possibilities it opens up for the future. I realized they had a common misconception about the ITI and thought I would try to clear it up here.

The ITI, as currently structured, gives Pontifical degrees in theology. These degrees are not awarded by the ITI but by the Vatican itself. The ITI does have a specialization that only really affects the Licentiate degree in theology (STL). The Pontifical "Masters" (STM) degree does not have that specialization. In fact, both the STM and the STL are degrees in theology first, and marriage and family second. Thus, when I graduate, I will not be a moral theologian that can only deal with issues concerning marriage and family. In other words, I am not relegated to be a high powered Marriage prep person or limited to subjects such as the Theology of the Body (although that is a very interesting subject!)

I am much more interested in Dogmatic or Systematic Theology. Since the degrees at the ITI are primarily a training in the full breadth of theology, I will not be limited to a certain aspect of theology. My hope is to get a doctorate in Dogmatic or Systematic theology. This will enable me to teach a broad expanse of theological topics.

Anyway, I offer this in hopes of clarifying where I am headed. :-)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Mountain of the Lord...

As I have done in the past, I am cross-posting these reflections from the "Into the Deep" blog.

I have spent the summer studying Josef Ratzinger's (Pope Benedict XVI) book Jesus of Nazareth (New York: Doubleday, 2007) . I am quite sure that there are many, many excellent blogs out there commenting on this text. I, with a lot of coercion from certain individuals, will add my voice to the chorus. I hope not to just tell you what the text says - you can read that for yourself. What I hope to do is to take selections of the text that strike me and reflect upon them. These reflections might concern theological or spiritual topics depending on what facet I extract. All this is done on hopes of getting folks to read the book themselves so as to reflect and meditate on Jesus, through the discussions in the book, in their own lives.

Thus, I will be skipping all over the place within the book according to my fancy. The first set of reflections comes from close to the end of the book. Chapter 9 is titled Two Milestones on Jesus' Way: Peter's Confession and the Transfiguration. Within the section on the Transfiguration, Ratzinger discusses an idea that he has spoken of earlier in the book, viz., the importance of the symbol of the mountain throughout the Gospels. He lists seven different "mountains" that Jesus experienced throughout his earthly life.

  1. The Mountain of Temptation
  2. The Mountain of His Great Preaching
  3. The Mountain of His Prayer
  4. The Mountain of the Transfiguration
  5. The Mountain of His Agony
  6. The Mountain of the Cross
  7. The Mountain of the Risen Lord

Jesus Himself told us that we must pick up our cross, deny ourselves, and follow him daily (Luke 9:23). Thus, we must journey to each of these mountains in order to live the life of Jesus - "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives within me." (Galatians 2:20) Over the next few weeks, I will take each of the "mountains" and reflect on its importance in Jesus' life and what it means for ours.

In general, the mountain serves throughout the Scriptures, but especially in the Gospels, as a place of the exceptional closeness of God. Ratzinger states:

The mountain is the place of ascent - not only outward, but also inward ascent; it is a liberation from the burden of everyday life, a breathing in of the pure air of creation; it offers a view of the broad expanse of creation and its beauty; it gives one an inner peak to stand on and an intuitive sense of the Creator.

The mountaintop is a place of vision. We can see for long distances across many obstacles that block our view from the valley floor. We need a vision. It gives us a vector to travel on; a direction to our life. A vector designates magnitude and direction. The vision that God gives us from the mountaintop typically has these attributes; we get a real sense of where he is calling us along with a sense of the price that must be paid. Of course, these don't come in fine detail. God paints these scenes with a broad brush but with enough detail we can begin the journey with enthusiasm and anticipation. It is essential to inscribe these times of vision on our hearts for there will come a time in the valley where we will walk by the darkness of faith and the remembrance of the mountaintop will be the manna that feeds us in the wilderness.

We cannot choose the time for the mountaintop nor bring it about. We can only wait in vigil as the disciples, along with the Blessed Mother, waited in the Cenacle (upper room) for the coming of the promised Paraclete (Cf. Acts 1:14). Rest assured, God has a vision for you. He is anxious to share what that is. As he says in Jeremiah:

For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (29:11)

However, we must be available to the Lord and willing in order to share in it. We must be taking the time for prayer so that we are available to the Lord when he desires to take us there. Moreover, we must have a deep conviction and attitude of surrender. The Lord likes nothing more than to have permission from us to do to us as he pleases. It demonstrates a deep faith and trust within the disciple. It is in this disposition of trust and faith that God can lead us to where he is calling us. One thing we must always keep in mind (we will discuss this more when we discuss the "Mountain of the Transfiguration") is that the mountain always leads to the valley where the Cross awaits. All trails off the mountain lead to the self-sacrificing love as expressed through redemptive suffering. If Jesus could only bring salvation tot he world through the suffering of the Cross, then we can't expect to serve him in any capacity that doesn't lead directly through where he has been. As we journey from mountain to mountain, the one feature that we will always find is the Passion. Let us not be discouraged by the ubiquitous presence of the Cross but take comfort and consolation in the fact that we are being treated as the Son was, and, if we share in the death of the Son, we will share, also, in his eternal life.

Thus, let us strap on our hiking boots and clothe ourselves in a deep confidence and trust in God. Let us allow him to lead us through these mountains as we allow him to conform us to the image of his Son. Then we can say with St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians:

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Got back to home after quite a marathon: missed flight (not my fault) and lost luggage. Travel is always an adventure!

The trip back to Idaho was such a blessing! It was so good to see friends and family. Words cannot express the depths of gratitude I feel to all who participated in the activities and in supporting us. The generosity and support of the people of Holy Apostles is amazing!! I am so grateful to be able to touch base with so many. Please know that we are praying for all of you.

I am equally grateful to be back with my family and to the place that God has so much in store for us. Funny, I felt more comfortable in a place where I couldn't understand the language than in the place where I could.

I want to thank the "Friends of Mike Lee" committee that put the whole week together: Carol and Brent Brown, Kurt and Edwina Barats, and Bob and Connie Mortensen. A special thanks to Tricia Hendrickson for the hike to the Cross and the music for praise in the park. Also, thanks to all the musicians that showed up to play at the park. Thanks for your gifts!! Thanks to Father Len and Holy Apostles Church for letting come and speak on Monday night. I hope to have the recording available to download soon. Last but not least, to all of the "Friends of Mike Lee" that have blessed us with their prayers, time, and money. May God bless all of you abundantly with his love and mercy. I only hope that we can give as much to the Universal Church as you have given us!!

We love you!

Friday, July 06, 2007

Schedule of events...

Here is the announcements from

Mike is coming to town!

Thanks to a generous donation of a round trip ticket, Mike is able to come spend a week with his supporters! Please feel free to come join Mike at any or all of these events!

Fundraising Barbeque
Saturday, July 14th 6 p.m.
In honor of Austria's lack of beef, come eat a burger for Mike. Event location is 4190 Columbine Street in Boise. Donations are gratefully accepted. Please RSVP by July 12th to 658-4491.

Teaching by Mike
Monday, July 16th 7 p.m.
Come listen to Mike on Monday evening as he presents "Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight." Holy Apostles Dining Room

Hike for Mike
Thursday, July 19th 7 p.m.
Join us as we hike up to Table Rock for a short prayer service. Meet at 7p.m. in the parking lot behind the Bishop's House off Penitentiary Road. Please bring a water bottle and wear comfortable shoes to hike. Non-walkers welcome, contact Tricia at 440-3639 for carpool arrangements.

Praise in the Park
Friday, July 20th 7 p.m.
Everyone come as you are to worship God and bid farewell to Mike. This praise and worship event will be held at Guerber Park at 2200 Hill Road in Eagle. An interactive water feature is available for the kids, so dress them accordingly. If you are a musician that would like to accompany, please contact Tricia at 440-3639.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy 4th!!

It is always an amazing thing to celebrate a holiday such as this here. Rained like the dickens all day, but we were able to put together a BBQ under an awning. All the Europeans were bugging us to have a party. Let's see there were: Brits, Irish, Scottish, Romanians, Luxembourgers, Polish, and Austrians there today. In fact, there were many more Brits that any other nationality. I had to tease them about us kickin' their &#@^%*&%&* out of America. :-) They wore their red, white, and blue today. It was a blast even without the fireworks.

God Bless America!