At this point, as one of the priests here at St. Mary’s put it, we are “on the runway” for ordination, which is a metaphor I’m rather fond of. There is something of the same sense of nervous excitement which I get right before an airline flight. This is always a hectic time in the life of a seminarian, I think, because even while we are finishing up our initial formation at seminary, there is a lot to do. In addition to the planning for the ordination and all the celebrations around it, we have to pack up and move, which is, to put it mildly, far from my favorite thing to do. I am probably not the only one to feel as if I’m being pulled in a number of different directions: getting ready to move on, trying to get settled in back home, and keeping in mind what I’ve learned here before making use of it in the parish.
It goes without saying that prayer is a critical part of this process, more so now than ever. For myself, in addition to the daily recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours which I promised at my diaconate ordination, I have been praying with those passages of Scripture which speak of Jesus Himself in priestly terms, especially the Passion narratives and the Letter to the Hebrews. I’ve also been spending a lot of time with the words from Luke’s Gospel, which Jesus addresses to Peter: “and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers”. In many ways, most of the thoughts and ideas I have about the priesthood flow from that command of the Lord: the necessity of continual conversion to Him, and then the mission to move from that relationship with Jesus to the service of His Church, to strengthening the faith of His people.
Finally, however, I’m reminded of how much I’ve been helped along the way to ordination, by priests I’ve worked with and looked up to, by other seminarians, by the people I’ve served, and by my friends and family. I know with full conviction that I can never thank them adequately for the role they have played in my life and in my formation. Trying to do that, to the extent possible, is one last way I am preparing for June 4.