14 weeks of classes and 17 days of exams. New dinner schedule. New subjects. A renewed interest and fresh vigor. These are the things that I have kept in mind as I began the first day of classes of the second semester for this school year. Yesterday I calculated how many weeks of classes and schoolwork we would be having, and I came with the result that I’ve stated above: fourteen weeks of classes, exempting Holy week and the Easter octave. In the end, within the examination period we would be having seventeen days. This morning I tried to stealthily campaign that we finish with the exams even before the last day of exams, something shared by the majority of the class except one, who insisted on spending the period to the full, with the last exam on the last day. I had a lively debate with the proponent of this idea, who comes from Brazil. The experience we had last semester was dreadful; we had to agonize until the last day of exams before being able to appreciate the cool breeze of the holiday cheer. I said to myself that I would keep everything in my power to keep this from happening again. Those who were well into thesis work were agreeable to the idea, since they would still have to prepare for the comprehensive oral exams in order to qualify for the licentiate title. The Brazilian was adamant but I hope he would succumb to the pressure of the majority. One thing that I noticed from returning from those days in Palafrugell was that I had learned to be more outgoing and forceful in conversations. By this I mean it in the sense that it is used here. Were I in the Philippines we would have “a heated exchange of words and ideas”, which actually means a quarrel; but we were not quarreling, actually. After the exchange I calmly and solicitously asked him how his vacation went. There are some things that the Filipino mentality won’t be able to get and stomach after a few tries.
Well it’s evident that with the new semester come new subjects, and new schedules. I would have to say goodbye to my stint as the Thursday chaplain in the university library, since I now have the first two hours on Thursday. I only have one free day, but even that is still not safe as we would still have to plan where to place the modules on the theological synthesis that we would have to make in preparation for the comprehensive oral exam to be done by the end of second year.
I have nine subjects this semester (last semester had a subject less):
Teología Patristica Oriental. Eastern Patristic Theology, with Marcelo Merino. Here we’re bound to study the more important theological traditions of Eastern Church Fathers. It’s about time to get to know Irenaeus of Lyon, Origen, Basil of Cesarea, John Chrysostom and the rest of the merry company.
Iglesia y sociedad en la España del Siglo de Oro: here my assessor and professor Fermin Labarga would introduce us to the thereabouts of both Church and society of Spain during its Golden Age, during the Seventeenth century.
Historia del Papado: once again, one of my preferred professors, Carmen Alejos, would be leading us on a tour of the history, not precisely of the popes, but of the papacy as an institution; how it evolved through the ages. Special attention would be give I surmise to the relations, sometimes shaky, sometimes advantageous to one side or the other (a lot of times both) between the Roman Pontiff and monarchs.
Rasgos de la Sociedad Cristiana medieval: I’m not acquainted with Alvaro Fernández de Córdova, but they say he’s quite good at teaching. It’s basically Medieval Church History, but taught with a flair.
In the Iniciación Cristiana I am to be reunited with my old formator, José Luis Gutierrez (a.k.a. Don Pepelú), expert in liturgy. Part of a course in sacramentology it basically talks about the significance of the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and the Eucharist. Nothing about rites nor rubrics here, though of course they form an important part of the mystery, but here Christian initiation is considered as an existential introduction into the salvific mystery of Christ through rites of a symbolic nature. Had I not taken up history I would’ve chosen Liturgy as a specialization. Anyway, this is an optative subject, something that I chose on my own.
Finally there is the Practica de la investigación histórica; it’s very much like the thesis writing course I once had in college, and which I taught as a professor later on.
Anyway, with these I marched off resolutely to the Faculty. My first day of classes was…without classes! I don’t know what happened, but it seemed the professor who was supposed to push us into the ordinary round of life was not there; for all I know he may have forgotten that he ad a class. Anyway, after all, there is this Latin adage that says prima non datur, the first day of class is not given, so off I went again, trudging back home.
Lastly, another novelty that we had in Albaizar was that starting this Monday, dinner is to be served at 7:15, (19:00) instead of the normal 9:15. The reasons for this change are still unknown. But it serves me well personally. One sure thing is that we need to adjust with the schedule. I’m planning to be in bed by 10:30 at the latest, in order to rise fresh very early in the morning; as I may have commented somewhere, I don’t like dealing with heavy material before going to bed, so this space may as well be devoted to further readings. My day will have to end with a cup of tea and me either reading or writing something down, preparing for the Sunday homily, or coming up with another entry, like what I’m doing now.
So I still have fourteen weeks roughly (the countdown has started) and at least three more, until I finally get to tread and kiss native soil once again.
With this I start the second season of what I call Albaizar Abbey…jeejeje