Monday, September 23, 2013


Slash's second guitar solo in Estranged, 1994
"when you are talking to yourself,
and nobody's home ...
so nobody ever told you baby
how it was gonna be
so what'll happen to you baby
guess we'll have to wait and see"
(Guns N' Roses - Estranged, 1991)
home from a new spiritual high, i return to where i was - in the clouds for almost five years:  St. Augustine's Seminary.  i remember my five years with joy, overlook the tough parts, and look forward in celebrating its 100th Anniversary this year!

there are two ways to leave the seminary.  both are good!  some men are ordained to the Holy Priesthood.  some are not.  i know many brothers who have chosen other paths, who are holier than some of the clergy.  from our common baptism, is not the universal call to holiness?  indeed, the seminary helps every man to know God better, and to know himself better as well.

as this prophetic song mentions though, nobody tells us how it will be (after ordination, for example), you'll have to wait and see.  however, based everyone's ordination day pictures (a parallel to wedding day pictures) all my brothers are joyful, smiles on their faces, ready to change the world, to transform her, indeed, to save her!
"when i find out all the reasons
maybe i'll find another way
find another day
with all the changing seasons of my life
maybe i'll get it right next time
and now that you've been broken down
got your head out of the clouds
you're back down on the ground
and you don't talk so loud
and you don't walk so proud
any more, and what for ..."
how many people do you know who are estranged:  separated?  or divorced?  marriage annulled? - (the reason Axl gave in writing this power ballad!)  do you know people who are estranged from the Catholic Church?  from God?  and, how many men do you know who have left the priesthood?  humility, is such a difficult thing, a hard lesson!  i know my brothers, when newly ordained, who are walking on cloud nine, some are levitating, others think that bilocation is right around the corner - indeed, we are oozing holiness, we cannot wait to perform our first miracle.  but, priests look for God, just like everyone one else (hopefully).  although it is a difficult lesson indeed:  to think one will change the world, only to realize later that it was i who has been changed.  now you've been broken down, got your head out of the clouds, you're back down on the ground, ... you don't talk so loud, and you don't walk so proud.  but being broken is a good thing, as Leonard Cohen once said.  it is how the light gets in!
seminarians + winter football, 2007?

i look forward in gathering with my brothers this week.  every time i see one of my brother priests - no matter which diocese or religious order, i always try to ask a simple question:  have you found the joy of the priesthood?  understanding that one is not God is a difficult lesson to learn - for newly ordained priests, indeed, for all who have experienced the conversion, of finding joy with God in Our Lord Jesus Christ.

of course, there are varying answers.  i ask it not in order to compare notes!  God works in my life, in my heart, just as He works in yours.  but it is good to know, to put in to words, why we are happy, or rather, why we are joyful.  that joy is God in Our Lord Jesus Christ.  and your priest has given his life to make Him known and loved by all.  as St. Augustine once said, Jesus is our knowledge.  He is our wisdom.  remind your priests that He is their ambition as well:  to know Him better, to love Him more, and to follow Him more closely.

of course, the victory is not ours, but His.  and yet, there is an invitation, and a call.  the zeal of the new evangelization, and helping others know God in Our Lord Jesus Christ.  i am in awe, i have no words, to describe the joy which i feel - still only four years after ordination (aka i'm still a baby) - to know that i participate in His mission, the salvation of souls - baptizing them in the name of (into) the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!

the seminary helped me on the first step:  knowing God better!  loving Him, and following Him, continues for me as it does for you.  it is not i who saves the world, but God in Our Lord Jesus Christ.  on ordination day, the parents give away their son to the Church.  Holy Mother Church receives him with gladness, and presents a new gift to the People of God, a baby priest, who will grow only with your love.

pray for your priests.  peace.

ps.  if the video can end on a happy note - spoiler alert:  Axl is saved by singing dolphins - , how will the rest of your journey go?  we have God Our Father who loves us, and Holy Mother Church that cares for us.  life is good.

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