Something very strange is scheduled to happen just under six months from now: after seven years of seminary, and a lifetime of dreaming, I’ll be ordained a priest.
It is just now occurring to me that I should probably write someday about how I ended up in seminary. Today isn’t that day. If you’re really interested, scroll on down and head to the archives from 2010 and 2011. No promises about what’s hidden in that attic, though.
Anyway, people keep asking me what’s going on in my head and heart as the day approaches, and I keep telling people that it’s crazy to think that I’ll soon be a priest. Mostly, I tell them that because it really is crazy.
First of all, it’s crazy because it’s bizarre to think that a day I never thought would come, that has largely been a far-off goal, might actually come and that all of the stuff I’ve been doing for the last seven years will be put to good use outside of an “internship”, “practicum”, “evaluation” context.
Second, and more importantly, it crazy to think that soon I’ll actually be a priest because it means that, soon, I’ll actually be a priest. A priest! A priest of God’s holy Church. Conformed to Christ in a new and radical way, called to be an alter Christus in the world. A herald of the only message that ultimately matters. That’s insane.
You mean to tell me that, by my hands, the power of God will change bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ? People will come to me to confess their sins and I, as the representative of Jesus and his Church, will offer them absolution, pardon and peace? Craziness.
This isn’t a job or a “career choice.” It’s a life. 24/7, 365, forever. I will be a priest.
My experience in seminary has had its various seasons, of course. I remember wanting to get the heck out of there for pretty much my entire first year, and then after three years of college seminary I thought I never wanted to leave.
In these years of prayer, study, and formation I have met the Lord, Jesus the Christ, and have fallen madly in love with him. I believe that God is not just real, but that he is the ground and sustenance of all reality. I believe that God is relational, and that in his freedom he has been extending the hand of relationship to me from my earliest days. I believe that I am his son, that I am loved by him beyond any telling, and that my worth comes from him alone. I believe that I am a sinner, completely unworthy for the life and work of a priest, but am confident, in the simplicity and sincerity of my heart, that I am called to this by none other than God himself.
I believe that Jesus is the incarnate Son of God, the only-begotten, the Word of the Father made flesh for the salvation of all. It is into his service that I am eager to enter, for the sake of him and of his Church that I am setting every other endeavor and plan aside to be free to lay down my life as his priest.
I believe in the message of the Christ, that death is conquered and sin is forgiven. I believe in the promise of the Messiah, made known through the ages from the mouths of patriarchs and prophets, that God has visited his people and offered to them a new, eternal, unbreakable covenant sealed in the blood of his Son. I believe in the power of the resurrection to transform every fiber of my being into something new, so that in the fulness of time I can become a “partaker in the divine nature.” (cf. 2 Peter 1:3-4)
I believe in the Church, the people of God who form the mystical body of Christ, and that all elements of truth and sanctification subsist fully in her. I believe that the Church’s sacraments, whose minister I am about to become, are dripping with grace and are effective in their aim of making me a new man in Christ; this is not to say that the sacraments are some magic means of being saved, but that through them the power of the resurrection is on full display and the Risen Jesus personally transforms me.
I also believe that the Church’s teaching on many things is extremely difficult to follow, but that this is a perfect arena for every mother’s wise words, “that the hardest things are the best things”, to be proven true.
I guess what it boils down to is that I believe in freedom. I believe that the human race, the highest and best point of creation, had fallen into captivity to sin and lived subject to mortality. I believe that in the fulness of time, “when peaceful stillness encompassed everything and the night in its swift course was half spent, the all-powerful Word from heaven’s royal throne leapt into the doomed land.” (Wis. 18: 14-15) I believe that the “Word became flesh, and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.” (Jn. 1:14)
I believe that I am free in him. I believe that all are offered this freedom.
I believe that Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, lived my life and died my death and rose from the dead as the first fruits of his promise of resurrection; I believe that in him, and by him, I have died with him in the waters of baptism and will one day rise with him to the fulness of life in a new heaven, and a new earth.
I have met this man, this Jesus. I have met him and I love him. I love him and I want to follow him. I want to follow him and tell everyone about him. “Come see a man who told me all I ever did. Could he be the Christ?” (Jn 4:29) I want all to know this freedom, to walk this journey of love into full maturity…into the newness being offered to everyone.
Only an idiot would give his whole life, his whole body, to someone unreal, untrustworthy, untrue. Some have questioned whether I’m selling myself short by becoming a priest. I am not for sale, although I have been purchased; purchased, not by brainwashing but by blood.
How bizarre is it that God would come to us, as us? How bizarre is it that he would shed his blood for us? How bizarre is it that he would invite us to become sharers in his own nature? How bizarre is all of this?
Not that that bizarre, actually. Just part of the plan.
He knows what he’s about, and that’s why I trust him.
What’s just really bizarre is that Ryan Adorjan will be a priest. That should be all the proof you need for the power of God.
Please pray for me.