A Great Band of Men
June/July 2013 — Vol. 2, Issue 10
Discerning a call to the religious life and priesthood can often feel like an isolating endeavor. It can seem like you are being pulled in one direction while everyone else is heading off in another direction. It can seem hard to find someone who can help show the way or to find others to talk with about it.
It is no surprise then that one of the most helpful things for men to do in their discernment is to visit a seminary or community house.
Visiting a seminary or house of formation or going on a discernment retreat can help connect one with a larger group of men who are asking the same questions and considering the same call. Visiting a religious house or a community in active ministry can bring one into contact with others who have walked the road before.
Realizing that others are on the same road can be just the sort of thing that encourages us to take a further step. In the Constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross, we recognize that many have walked the way before us, and it is part of what encourages us on:
We asked how we might follow, and we found many footprints on the road. A great band of men had passed this way, men who had made and lived by their vows, men who had walked side by side in their following of the Lord. They beckoned us to fall in step with them. (Constitution 1:5)
The wonderful thing is that this quote from our Constitutions is more than just words or an inspiring sentiment. It is indeed true that many men have gone before us and there are times when this comes into clear focus.
A little over a week ago we celebrated the Jubilee Anniversaries of 22 Holy Cross priests and brothers. These men had reached significant anniversaries of their ordinations and final vows. They had reached the anniversary of 25, 50, 60, 65, and 70 years as priests and brothers. Their collective time of life in service to the Lord and His Gospel added up to over 1,115 years.
These men celebrating their jubilees were university and college presidents, pastors, missionaries, educators, and a fireman. They are theologians, historians, artists, teachers, administrators, chaplains and a bishop. They have served in Indiana, Oregon, Newfoundland, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Peru, Chile, East Africa and many other places.
They are Holy Cross priests and brothers, men who heard and answered Christ’s call.
While I was in formation here at Moreau Seminary I would often head next door to Holy Cross House, our retirement house and infirmary. Here I was able to catch up with some of the Holy Cross priests and brothers that I had known since my youth in a Holy Cross parish. I was also able to meet many other priests and brothers who had worked in all manner of ministries in all corners of the world. It was a great encouragement to hear their stories.
They spoke of stepping into difficult ministerial situations and finding the strength and resources to make it work. They spoke of troubled students or parishioners who later came back to thank them for their efforts and generosity. They spoke of challenging, supportive, wild, and grace filled interactions with community members. They spoke of it all with a sense of contentment and appreciation.
These men had walked the road that I was pondering and would do it all over again if they had the chance. They had encountered challenges and hardships, yet they had also seen how capable God is in drawing us through such situations. They had seen conversion and renewal. They had seen the grace of God at work in their lives and in the world and they were grateful.
It is encouraging to know that others have walked this road and come out better men for it. It is encouraging to know that if the Lord calls and we answer, He will see us through.
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. (Constitution 8:122)
Prayer from the Tradition
Prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Most holy Heart of Jesus,
fountain of every blessing,
I adore You and with lively sorrow for my sins
I offer You this poor heart of mine.
Make me humble, patient, pure,
and wholly obedient to your will.
Grant, good Jesus,
that I may live in You and for You;
protect me in the midst of danger;
comfort me in my afflictions.
Give me health of body,
assistance in my temporal needs,
Your blessing on all that I do,
and the grace of a holy death.
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