Happy Easter! The Lord is risen, he is risen indeed. Alleluia!
It occurs to me that I have been in the seminary for 3.5 years. For all you math majors out there, this means that on May 1, the last day of this semester (which thanks be to God Almighty is only 3 weeks away) I will have completed 4 of my 7 years of seminary.
As these four years come to a close, I used the time while I was serving 4 Mass in a row on Easter Sunday to take a look back at other things in my life that lasted four years in order to you, you know, put things in perspective. Well, in high school one of my greatest passions was marching band. That lasted four years. It could have continued (sort of) at North Central College, but “eh,” thought I, “I think I’ll try something else now.” Speech team in high school was a pretty good time (see here here here and here for a little narcissism). Another thing I could have continued and had scholarship money for at North Central but “eh,” thought I, “I’m tired of that…let’s try something else.” People, let me put this in perspective for you: speech and band and drama…these things were my entire life, they were the foundation of my identity……….but I mean, eh, everyone runs out of steam.
So there I sat in the same front pew as always at St. Anne’s and it occurred to me, “hey, the 4 year mark of seminary is coming up. It’s moving pretty slowly…do you have anything to show for it? Aren’t you just wasting your time?”
Sub-conscious Ryan had a point. All day I had stood in the narthex greeting high school classmates, some with their new significant others, and we’d chat about our lives. OHS Class of 2010, you’re looking great, by the way. Most of you seemed to have jobs or internships or were in graduate school doing the things you love. Then there’s silly Ryan, your “venerable” class president-turned Mr. Oswego, still playing altar boy all these years later. Somewhere around the end of the sprinkling rite when the deacon splashed me in the face with Holy Water did it dawn on me that I am not only well on my way to becoming this guy, but I’m already the 22 year old professional altar boy.
But the more I thought about it (while intently listening to Fr. John’s homily for the 4th time in a row, of course), I realized there was no need to be alarmed about the four year mark. I think I was genuinely tired of the things I used to do, but that’s totally natural. Here’s the kicker: I’m not tired of this life, of this call, of the future that lies in front of me God-willing as a priest. I am very tired of constant studies and I sometimes get frustrated with community life (both of which help prove my humanity should it ever be questioned), but I am not tired of the people and places and things with which this life has provided and will provide me through the generous and providential hand of almighty GOD.
Rather than shying away, or withering up, or tiring out after 4 years I am strengthened anew for whatever lies ahead of me. For I do not walk alone.
The tabernacle at St. Anne’s is inscribed with these words: Panis Angelorum, Factus Cibus Viatorum. The bread of angels becomes the food of pilgrims.
I am pilgrim and you are a pilgrim and together, yes, as one, we are moving on our pilgrim way. This place, this earth, this state in life is not our final destination and every thing that has come before and everything that lies ahead drips with God’s grace and power and unending love.
And if the psalmist (Ps 110: 4) and whoever the heck wrote Hebrews are right (Heb 7:17), if I really will be a priest not just for this life but forever in the line of Melchizedek, then 4 years ain’t so bad….in fact, here’s to infinity more.