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!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Of Obedience

"Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." John 21:18

These are among the final words that Jesus speaks to Peter in John's Gospel. The Evangelist then goes on to inform readers these words signify the death that Peter was to die. Tradition has it that in a final act of devotion to his Lord, Peter requested that he be crucified upside down, as he was unworthy to die in the same manner as Jesus. For me, though, these words have taken on a particular meaning.

On Friday, I received my call to orders. This means that the Bishop has acknowledged my desire to be ordained and has formally announced his intention to ordain me. While the announcement has prompted a sudden flurry of activity on my part as I make the final preparations for the event and hammer out all the details, it has also served as the impetus for deeper reflection on the passage quoted above. In less than a month, I will place my hands in the hands of my bishop, and I will promise to live the rest of my obedient to him and all who succeed him as Bishop of Rapid City.

It is a great temptation, for me anyway, to believe that in remaining uncommitted, unfettered as it were, I also remain freer. Right now, I have the liberty to pack my bags and to go wherever the road may lead me. After June 6, my will is no longer my own. I will be bound to my bishop. At times, he may lead me where I do not want to go, and I know that for myself, in committing myself to obedience, albeit freely, I will die a thousand deaths. My will is strong, I can be stubborn, prone to arrogance, and I know that there will be moments when obedience will be extremely difficult. So, why choose it?

In the end, I have come to realize that in obedience, I will find peace, happiness, and holiness. Part of the road to holiness, for the ordained and laity alike, is the process of conforming our wills to the will of Christ. For me, through obedience, Christ will tame my will. In doing so, he will form me ever more in his own image.

So, even though this impending moment in my life might seem a peculiar life choice to some, and even though it seems intimidating to me, I rejoice at think that in less than one month, when my Bishop asks me, "Do you promise respect and obedience to me and my successors," I will freely and joyfully answer "I do."


Jinglebob said...

Ahhh, you make me very proud, son.

Alli said...

Congratulations! May God bless you in this next step!

J. Thorp said...

It's striking how much what you describe calls to mind what I've been learning about my own marriage over the past 11+ years. The big difference: We undergo a weekend of "formal" preparation, then years of learning, unlearning, and relearning *after* we've said our "I do" ... :)

Of course, you'll continue to learn, too -- but your formal prep is definitely stronger than ours was!

To echo JB and Alli -- you make us very proud, my friend. Congratulations and many, many blessings.

Tyler said...

My Director of Vocations often comments that whereas married couples struggle in the year after their wedding, as they learn to live with one another and as they learn to live as a husband or as a wife, the ordained are exuberant. It makes me wonder why we don't do more thorough marriage preparation sometimes.

J. Thorp said...

Jodi and I are now helping facilitate and presenting at our parish's Theology of the Body retreats for engaged couples. Such a blessing to us -- and to them, too, although you can see the discomfort in some of their faces as they are challenged their priorities (and what is or is not a *big deal*).

Wish sometimes our Engaged Encounter has been a bit more engaging in this regard -- but then, the path I'm on has led me here, and here is a pretty good place to be ...

Anonymous said...

Brilliantly reflective, as usual.
You are a genius, you know that, don't you?
God Bless you

Jinglebob said...

Well of course he is Hubba. he's related to me! :)

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