by James Smith, Advanced Formation Candidate
In the age of contemporary communication and social connection (e.g., Instagram, Facebook, Vine, SMS texts), I thought of sharing some of my life, world, and young candidacy angst (still waiting for that film genre) through this medium, particularly tweets. For those familiar with Twitter, ignore this paragraph and move on. For everyone else—welcome to the world modern social media. Twitter is a platform for sharing with the world in a unique fashion—only 170 characters per post. Tweets (individual posts to Twitter) are viewed by individuals in one of two ways—following or “liking” a particular page or searching for that person. Users on Twitter have an account with a username, e.g., @jamesmithsonian (that’s me!), where the user follows other users and their tweets comprise the homepage. Some folks tweet frequently (4-5 times an hour), while others less frequently (1-2 times a day), and others rarely (1-2 times a month). The idea behind it is instant, quick and brief social connection between people. On my account I am connected to people I know (25-30%); folks I admire, such as actors or journalists (40-60%); and other pages, e.g., HipsterJesus or The Jesuit Post (10-20%). What follows is simply, tweets from a candidate.

  • If God can be found everywhere, why do I have to depart God’s presence in my pillows and blankets to head to the chapel for morning prayer?
  • Another successful day of deceiving the professor I actually did the reading, I mean, confused by all the recommended but not required reading I did.
  • Thank God for WiFi in classrooms, I wonder if there’s decent WiFi in a confessional? It’s got to be in the conf room for meetings, for work and not scrabble of course.
  • How do I add three pages of fluff to this paper? I mean, how do I have room for all of my insightful reflection on the theological implications of this unique situation.
  • Are priests only supposed to know what color is at mass? Or is the all-black look encouraging color-blindedness?
  • I would enjoy contemplative prayer so much more with noise-canceling headphones, with or without music. Sneeze, cough or sandals not fastened noise is amplified.
  • Reasons I like moving: new house, central air, awesome bathroom. Reasons I don’t like moving: physically moving my stuff. Why do I have more than just a tunic?
  • I get a little sillily happy when I see a classmate, whose community is habited, outside of his habit. I may or may not point and laugh, then Instagram it.
  • Harry Potter three, the book that tries to eat him? That’s me with textbooks—if I like the class, I touch it gently. If not? I kick and stomp on it.
  • CTU really is a Catholic school of theology and ministry—the back two rows usually go first for every single class. When a prof tries to make me move, I sob bitterly.
  • Macy’s, February 2011, fragrances department. Saleswoman attempts to get me to purchase perfume for that “special someone” in my life. Epic was telling her what I do.
  • I get so excited when I see folks reading churchy or theology books outside of school. Oh so happy. Floods of Hi 5s is my desired reaction to those folks.
  • Ministry sites tend to be awesome or less than desirable. I get so excited heading to the former, so excited when leaving the later. Somehow food makes both better.
  • It’s nice to have actual “weekends” for a few years more. Then again, grocery shopping at 9am on a weekday is pretty sweet.
  • I take it as a compliment when a classmate says, “I can’t sit next to you in class. I won’t be able to pay attention.” I think that means I’m awesome and fun.
  • Coffee. Lots of it. And then more coffee. With a side of espresso with coffee ice cubes.
  • That moment when community members or other folk try to speak around or above me as a candidate, thinking I don’t get it but really do and they don’t know it? Priceless.
  • Most of my friends are younger than me and call me old. Most community members are older and call me young. I can’t win.
  • I consider my classmates studying for priesthood who were once married and have adult children as cheating. For the obvious reason—they get more X-mas presents than me.
  • It’s scary to realize there are Yelp reviews of parishes and priests. It’s even scarier that I know this from experience.
  • Before the indignation from you for me being on my iPhone at mass, please be aware I could be using an app for prayer or looking at the readings…or playing Candy Crush.
  • If Jesus had asked us to follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, this whole Christianity thing would be so much easier. Retweet or Like = Sunday Obligation.
  • Wait, sharing religious articles and pages on Facebook is NOT the New Evangelization?
  • I love Advent, mostly because it signals the end of the fall semester. If Lent were closer to the end of the spring semester, maybe we’d be on better terms.
  • I sometimes worry what visitors or guests to our house think when they hear us shouting down the hallway, “JOSEPH! JOSEPH! I’M CALLING YOU!”
  • The official school colors of CTU should be perspiration, coffee and wine stains and tears. Mascot should be a terrified puppy trembling—with a clerical collar on.
  • A classmate once wrote 70 pages for a 12-15 page paper. We almost got the opportunity to “practice” a funeral in that class. By practice I mean the real thing.
  • I attempted to rename the cafeteria at CTU the “Cafeteria De Food,” with the appropriate acronym to boot. Sadly, it did not take off.
  • For some reason my response “job security” to the question, “why would you become a priest today?” doesn’t typically land well.
  • Easiest way to boost sales of a theology book? Get it banned by the Vatican. Easiest way to get folks to church? Free food.
  • CTU has a soccer tournament each spring. I think the various communities’ candidates from Africa, Latin America and Asia are ringers.
  • Typical question in class—“how do you think you’ll use this in future ministry?” “The book will look pretty on my bookshelf” is not an appropriate answer.”
  • Comic-Con is a late invention of a gathering of geeks/nerds. The earliest? Theology school.
    I tend to describe “bond of charity” and no vows for us as a form of “cheating” the system for an order—especially for property. I guess that’s not the best description.
  • Can I just check-in on Facebook or 4Square for class? Do I actually have to show up?
    I think that if course evaluations for professors and classes were on Yelp or Amazon, we’d have more results.
  • Cell phones inevitably go off during class, liturgy or lectures everywhere. It’s almost always someone who’s child or nephew/niece taught them how to use it.
    Apparently Pope Francis has made one change to canon law—no Sunday brunch without mass attendance (a la TJP).