It's been a crazy week. I wrote in an email to my mom that I'd not been able to keep up with which end was up. Yes mom - its because its been a hectic week. Nothing deeper to it than that... at least I don't think. The people walking the face of this planet today that I care about the most are my immediate family (grammaw, mom, dad), my friends (two in particular), and the twins. Of the six, I've spoken to one on the phone this week, and two others only once by email. That's what I mean by a crazy week.
And then, tonight, I saw a living sacrifice offered on the altar here at St. Thomas Aquinas Chapel. No - there wasn't any blood shed. We did not slaughter anything... well, not literally anyway. But - it was still no less meaningful, no less dramatic - at least for me. What I saw, there before my eyes, on the same altar on which I see the holy and living sacrifice of the mass celebrated each day, from which I receive again the fruits of the perfect sacrifice offered once for all so many lifetimes ago...
...there on that altar I saw nine men literally lay down their lives. It was a lot less bloody than what probably came to your mind from the title of this entry. It was a lot less violent that the scene painted in the Gospels of Christ's sacrifice. But it was no less significant than those in this respect - I watched these men lay their lives on the holy altar - in the presence of, on behalf of, for the ministry and nurturing of, the Church...
Tonight, eight men of our 4th Theology class made their deacon promises. One by one, three times, they read aloud promises that handed over their lives to the service of God, and God's people. One by one, they processed to the altar, placed their hands on the Holy Gospels, and pleaded for God's grace and assistance in being faithful to these promises. One by one, they arrived at the altar, placed a sheet of paper upon which they had writted in their own hand the promises they were making, and there - on the altar upon which we participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, they signed their names.
Greater love have no man than this - that he lay down his life for his friends. And his enemies. And those he's never met. And a world of lost and lonely people in the shadow of our steeples. What a witness. What a gift.
Pray with me for my brother seminarians: Brother Jeremiah, Aaron, Matt, Joseph, James, Dennis, Jose, and Jeremy. Pray for the grace to remain faithful to their promises. Pray thanksgiving for the gift of vocation in their lives that has enabled them to travel this journey, and step to the altar to freely offer their lives.
Tonight, I saw eight lives offered to God... and I was moved.