That's right, folks. Twenty Thirteen. But we're not talking about the setting for "Voyage to Mars" or "Flash Gordon Saves the Galaxy". Twenty Thirteen is my new "class". If it be God's will, I'm a member of the Ordination Class of 2013.
Wow - that seems like so far away. I was having lunch with Fr. Mark earlier this week, and he asked me how I felt about that. I didn't want to admit how I really felt, but what's the point of dancing around the truth? One thing I've been learning - there's no point in being anything but authentic and honest, with others or myself. If what I seek is God's will, and to follow His call to holiness - I can't do that by wearing masks or avoiding what's real for me right now by trying to say "the right thing".
So I answered Fr. Mark honestly. "It just seems so far away. And truth be told, I have a dangerous attitude brewing. Seminary today feels like a obstacle to beginning to serve God's people, rather than a vehicle for it." How utterly pompous of me!
I've been reading other seminarian's blogs a lot recently. Earlier this week I happened across an entry by a Seminarian from our Diocese who will be ordained to the priesthood this coming spring. In this entry, Deacon Noel says:
Yes, I was homesick. But most of all, I was frustrated with how my vocation story was unfolding. I was frustrated because I came to Saint Meinrad with my own vision of seminary life, with my own program of formation for the priesthood. I thought I knew better. I thought I had it all figured out. I thought they should have taken one look at me and then called Bishop Williams in and had him lay his hands on my head and ordain me right then and there. I was wrong. (You can read all of this reflection at his blog by following this link.)
Heh... its nice to know I'm not completely alone. It's also nice to know that just having this attitude right now doesn't mean my vocation is broken, or that I can't be formed. Formation... formation is what's missing from my attitude. The difference between a ceramic cup that can hold warm tea and a big blob of moist clay that can't do much of anything but roll around is... formation. In the hands of a Master craftsman. Which includes what... shaping, removing imperfections and impurities, curing, strengthening.
I won't lie - my attitude isn't perfect. There's still a part of me that says - gee - six years! (booming voice again:) In the year Twenty Thirteen.
But, there's also comfort, and a realization that if I'm ever going to be a vessel that can carry God's warmth, comfort, nourishment, and sustinence to His people, I have to be formed. By the Master craftsman. Now - if I can keep my hands off, and focus on being formable clay...
On a side note - its been very nice this week being welcomed by the seminarians of our Diocese. I've received emails, phone calls, and even invitations to visit. One of the concerns I've faced over the past two years as I've moved toward today is the idea of being "disconnected" as a priest. Not in the theological or spiritual sense - in the physical and emotional sense. From what I've seen this week, the bonds of community begin long before ordination. If that's any indication of the community and commraderie among the presbyteriate, my concerns are unfounded.
And if any of my fellow Seminarians are reading this - "THANKS GUYS! You sure know how to make a fella' feel welcome."