“Are you looking forward to being done?” It’s a question I’m getting a lot right now. The answer, of course, is yes, but I’m hoping it’s a long way off. You see, of all the major transitions I have coming up over the next year, I don’t really count any of them as being ‘done.’ I’ll be done not when I see a diploma or a bishop’s hand approaching my forehead; I’ll be done when I see the beatific vision. I’ll be done not when I’ve finished something, but when God has finished with me. Heaven is the destination, and I expect to have a long while yet on the way.
There are many transitions coming up for me over the next year. On May 18, I’ll graduate with my Masters of Divinity degree, and I’ll be done with seminary studies. Over the summer, I’ll move in to my first parish, and on September 7, I’ll profess forever the vows that I currently live under one year at a time.
According to our Constitutions (6.68), this is when initial formation is done. That word ‘initial’ is very important. Formation is a lifelong endeavor that began before we entered seminary (in our mothers’ wombs, the Psalmist tells us) and continues until heavenly bliss is reached. The next day, I’ll be ordained deacon and serve in this way until April 26, 2014 when, God willing, I’ll be ordained priest.
It is with joy and trepidation that I’ll then offer the sacrifice of the Mass – joy in God’s grace out-poured, and trepidation because I know how painfully aware I’ll be that I don’t love as fully and self-sacrificially as Christ does.
None of those moments constitutes being ‘done,’ but each of them is an important step on the way. St. Catherine of Sienna once said, “The whole way to heaven is heaven, because Christ is the Way.” Those transitions aren’t ends, but steps in a journey that is not my own, steps that will help me to encounter Christ and to draw others into that loving relationship.
So, to answer the question people intend when they ask if I’m looking forward to being done: Yes, I am very excited about each of those steps. I’m excited because this is such a wonderful pilgrimage to be on, and I want to say that and celebrate that publically. The pilgrim’s way will not evade the stormy waters, but like an anchor plunge through them and reach the firm rock of hope. The steps are steps in a Way of the Cross, and at the same time heavenly encounters with Christ. They’re exciting, they’re beautiful, and they’re scary, because we’re treading on holy ground.
“The footsteps of those men who called us to walk in their company left deep prints, as of men carrying heavy burdens. But they did not trudge; they strode. For they had the hope. It is the Lord Jesus calling us. ‘Come. Follow me.’” (Constitutions 8:122-123).
Mr. Adam Booth, C.S.C., is in his third year of temporary vows and is studying theology as a seminarian at Moreau Seminary on the campus of Notre Dame. He and other seminarians at Moreau write a post each month for the Spes Unica Blog, sharing on their life and formation at Moreau. Meet our other men in formation, and learn more about seminary life in Holy Cross, and specifically about the Postulant Program at Moreau Seminary, which constitutes the first year of religious and priestly formation in Holy Cross for college graduates and Old College seniors.