Monday, November 28, 2005

my article

My recent article in The Record online:

"O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me." (Psalm 70[69])

These are the opening words to the Liturgy of the Hours, the universal prayer of the church prayed by seminarians, clergy and the laity every day. These were also my words as I knelt nervously in the chapel to receive a blessing by one of the deacon-seminarians on the first day of my arrival at St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore on Aug. 25, 2005.

What a grand seminary! What a grand chapel!

Pope John Paul II, of blessed memory, knelt in that same pew 10 years earlier during his visit to Baltimore. It all seemed so daunting as I prayed for God’s help.

And he has given me his help. I’m enjoying myself and settling into the routine of daily morning prayer, evening prayer, Mass and the flow of community life with seminarian brothers from all over the country.

Thankfully, I’ve gotten into the swing of course work too, after having been out of college for three years. I have our very own Father Gladstone "Bud" Stevens, a priest of the Archdiocese of Louisville who teaches at St. Mary’s on Monday and Thursday mornings: Epistemology (the art and science of knowing) and introduction to Catholic theology.

In the former, I’ve been studying Vatican II documents such as Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason) and the search for and knowledge of truth. In the latter, I’m learning how to enter into a "conspiracy" with the Church. You see, the Latin word for conspiracy (conspirare) means "to act in unison with."

My remaining courses are history of philosophy, philosophical anthropology and political philosophy, all of which have done a nice job of burying me up to my ears in reading assignments. But as our professors keep telling us: "Gentlemen, you’ve got to learn how to think before you can learn theology. This is no longer about you, but the faithful whom you’ll serve, who are waiting on you to give them meaning and the truth."

So, it all seems like a nightmare when I think of seminary as if it’s "college all over again."

But it’s not. It’s more than that; it’s formation, it’s becoming a priest after Christ’s own heart, assuming that almighty God, my archbishop and my vocation director will it to be. When I think of it that way, all the reading and the papers are more than worth it.

How humbling it is to be here. What an honor it is to study for the priesthood. When I pause and think of all the sacrifices you have made and all the prayers you’ve offered for me and my fellow seminarians so we can study and pray here at St. Mary’s, it amazes me.

All I can do to repay you is to say that I will work my hardest to continue to discern if the priesthood is not only something that I want but what God wants for me as well. I will never forget all the encouragement and support so many of you in the Archdiocese of Louisville gave me before I packed up the U-haul and left for "Mary’s land."

Weekly holy hours with the community and a small daily rosary group have been my anchors in addition to your prayers.

I will work to take the words of St. Paul to the Ephesians to heart: "But grace was given to each of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift ... to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the Body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of faith and knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the extent of the full stature of Christ, so that we may no longer be infants. ... Rather, living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into him who is the head, Christ." (4:7,12-15)

Mary’s Magnificat, her canticle of praise and thanksgiving to God, is also part of the Liturgy of the Hours in evening prayer. It will be through God’s abundant grace and Mary’s intercession if I achieve "the full stature of Christ" and discern his will for me.

So, I echo Mary’s words: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. ... the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name." (Luke 1:46-49)

Please continue to pray for vocations, for Michael Wimsatt (my fellow Louisville seminarian here) and for me. Feel free to write us at: St. Mary’s Seminary and University, 5400 Roland Ave., Baltimore, Md. 21210.

1 comment:

Laura said...

what a neat article. i love the opening. Liturgy of the Hours is such a beautiful prayer... I'm so in love with it!