Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Hand on the Plow

With ordinations fast approaching for many of us, and having already been accomplished for others, you might imagine that much of our prayer time is occupied with meditations on ordination. I will try, over the next few days, to give you some insight from my own meditation.

I must admit it. As these May days slowly glide past, I find myself thinking about home more and more. I suppose part of it resides in the fact that within a couple of weeks, classes will have terminated for the semester. At least theoretically, I will have finished all of my papers and projects. I will be returning home sooner rather than later. Nevertheless, I am still homesick.

I have always been something of a homebody. I would just as soon spend my entire Christmas break on the family ranch as I would visiting the exotic climes of some tropical island or the ancient portals of the Eternal City. On those rare occasions when I have been given the opportunity to spend one of my breaks from school somewhere other than home, it has always been a struggle to choose to go elsewhere. Thus, it might seem natural that I would be getting homesick now. I think, however, that something more significant is happening.

Fr. Shane Campbell, one of the newly ordained priests, commented that in the homily delivered by Fr. Joseph Johnson at his (Fr. Campbell's) Mass of Thanksgiving, it was made clear that through sacramental ordination a man is changed. In a corresponding way, the relationship a man has with his family also changes. This fact has weighed heavily upon me. I expect to be a deacon soon. Thereafter, while I still remain "Robert's boy," my primary identity must necessarily be rooted in my new relationship with Christ, with the Church, and with my Bishop. In a way, ordination brings with it a definitive step away from my family. It is not as though I will be absent from my family or they from me. I will, however, be Deacon Tyler first, and Robert and Cindy's son second. So, I relish the idea of going home and still being just Tyler for a few more days.

In considering all of this, a number of passages from the Scriptures have presented themselves to me. The first, from Genesis, follows Adam's jubilant exclamation at finding a suitable partner for himself. "For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh" (2:24). Likewise, I have been thinking about Luke's Gospel and Jesus' teaching that "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God" (9:62). I don't think that I am looking back so much as I am wondering about what this will all look like in the rapidly approaching future. I don't expect ordination to harm my relationship with my family. In some ways, I believe that the relationship will be deepened - I will be available to them in ways that are impossible preceding ordination. It will not, however, be the way it was before. I am a little apprehensive about how to appropriate all of this. To be sure, my hand is already on the plow, and if I am to cut a straight furrow, I need to look forward, with my eyes fixed on Christ.


Jinglebob said...

As with all the changes that have faced you in life, I am sure you will do fine.

I can't wait to get to call you Father Tyler.!

Anonymous said...

I like the connection you made to the sacrament of marriage. That sacrament also changes you fundamentally and it changes your relationship to your family, you become your own family and you no longer belong just to yourself. So while it brings growing pains, it also brings a life of great joy. Vocation is a wonderful and powerful thing!

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