How Scripture guides our seminarians
Ever wondered what words guide men who explore the priesthood?
Some of our diocesan seminarians were asked about their favorite Scripture verses dealing with vocations. Below are some of their responses, and the reason these ancient words speak to them today. (More about our seminarians can be found on the vocation page of the diocesan web site under "Meet our Seminarians.")
Joel Sember: "This is how one should regard us. As servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God" -- Cor. 4:1.
Priesthood has service at its core. The vocation to priesthood is a vocation to serve Christ in a special way. Priests are God's messenger boys, bringing the Gospel to the world. God does not need them to convert hearts, but chooses to use them. A priest is not ordained to a position of special power, instead it is a role of special service. His duties are to serve his flock, and his authority stems from these duties.
This quote from St. Paul sums up the role of the priest so well. A servant, a steward; he has nothing of his own, only God. But one who has freely become the servant of a great King is far better than Lord of smelly slum. The servant also rules, rules with the his King's power if the King so chooses, but is content to serve his King wherever he be needed. Choose the King wisely and let Him choose the service. No faithful servant goes unrewarded.
Ben Sember: John 21:15-19 really sums up the priesthood in a heartwarming, but challenging way. Jesus asks Peter again and again "Do you love me?" And, when Peter answers that he does, Jesus says "Feed my sheep."
Peter used to be sure of himself; sure that he could do whatever the Lord might ask of him. Now he knows that the only thing he can be certain of is Christ, and that he loves Christ. But this is enough.
Priesthood is not something that can be done because a man wants it; it can only be done for love of Christ. Even the wonderful people in the parishes are not enough for a man to give his life away. Only Christ can be that end. But if a man can keep love of Christ as the motive for all his actions, then he can serve the people, and go to far-off jungles and give his life away with joy. This is exactly what Peter will do. After the Apostle professes his love for Christ, Jesus foretells that he will suffer martyrdom, but finishes, "Follow me."
We should not ask Christ where we are going; we must only remember that he died for love of us. Gradually, we will learn to give our lives for love of Him.
Dcn. John Girotti: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight" -- Prv 3:5.
Living the Christian life can be difficult, especially in this world so set against the ways and teachings of Christ. All of us from time to time do not fully trust in the Lord, but rely on our own ideas and ways to get us through.
This rarely works. Rather, as believers, we should most fully entrust our lives to the Lord, relying on His teachings and His Church, rather than on our own opinions. In this way, with the great gift of faith, we will be able to navigate life's dangers.
Trusting the Lord also has much to do discerning one's vocation. I remember in the discernment of my own vocation, that it was when I relied solely on my own understanding and insights that I felt most distant from Our Lord. Rather, in the discernment of any vocation, whether it be to married, single, or religious life, we should first trust in God's movement in our lives, and then answer His call to discipleship and holiness.
Patrick Beno: "It is now the hour for you to wake from sleep, for our salvation is closer than when we first accepted the faith. The night is far spent; the day draws near. Let us cast off deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light" -- Rm 13:11-12.
This passage has been speaking to me of late. I like the clarity that it yields. It demands a recognition of our sinfulness and the necessity of conversion. These words of Paul, steeped in his own experiences, lead us to see the whole picture of our life.
Walter Stumpf: Mk 7:31-37. Jesus heals the deaf mute. Our vocation call is out there, we only need to let Jesus work with us ... to heal our deafness ..."Ephphatha!"
Mike Brummond: "Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James, son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing their nets. Jesus called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him" -- Mt 4:21-22.
There must have been something about our Lord. There must have been something about Him that captivated James and John upon seeing him, perhaps the first time. Jesus called and their response was immediate, dramatic, and total. James and John could have been spokesmen for Nike: "Just do it."
As Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, there is still something about our Lord that captivates us all as baptized believers. In a distinct way, though, certain men are called to leave their boats and follow Him. My response was not as immediate, dramatic and total as James and John. But to anyone hearing the voice of Christ calling, I would suggest praying for the intercession of James, John and all Christ's apostles, for the grace to answer according to His will.