I have a lot of love in my heart today. The Lord has used the love of his Mother to open the eyes of my heart so to speak and let me tell you, there is a lot of beauty to see all around us. I often forget to notice the many gifts that I receive every day. Normally the reason I miss it is because I’m very selfish. Whenever something goes right, it didn’t go right enough, or there is something more that I think I deserve when in all actuality if I would just look I’d see that I should be very well content and even overwhelmed with love.
Some may say that I am a bit of a social butterfly. One of my favorite things about going home is serving at Mass and then talking with people afterwards, even in just telling them to make it a great week. I love interactions with people and in a special way I love making new friends. It’s a gift and one of my most enjoyed encounters when learning more about a person and a relationship growing that brings both parties closer to heaven. When I joined the seminary I was so excited to meet new people. I was leaving Illinois going out of state to a school where I only knew two guys going in. New professors, new priest examples, new friendships to grow. About 3 weeks into seminary my first year, I realized that I wouldn’t really make new friends from that time on until the next year. Reason I say that is because out here we become family fast which is a much different and much deeper type of relationship. I take great joy in that. Last year and again this year, same thing, new men come in and within a few weeks its family. How lucky am I to be surrounded by 46 brothers who have my back at all times, even if we don’t always agree on everything. However come to the thick of the semester, my heart starts to yearn to branch out, to reach out to more people. Last year I didn’t even know this was a reason why loneliness started to creep up on me. I reached out to old friends from back home and the majority of them had changed…or maybe just maybe I had changed.
In the short time that I’ve been in the seminary I’ve learned a few things very well. One of them is that the Lord sent me here to become a better man, and in that He has given me the opportunity to grow in discernment of my vocation. He also has shown me that I am not alone. I talk about the importance of realizing that you aren’t alone a lot but I’ll be honest, the reason I come to that phrase so often is because I do have bouts of feeling alone. This semester has not been to different when it comes to not having the opportunity to reach out and meet more of the Church however I now have the pleasure of teaching CCD on Wednesdays. God bless those kids for having to listen to me ramble off my stories. There is one other difference this semester too though. I’ve made a lot of new friends. I’ve also had many relationships become deeper where I can rely more on them. These friends I’m making, these relationships I’m deepening…they are with the saints.
I’ve always had an affinity for reading about the saints, especially the martyrs. There is nothing that gets me more jacked up than reading the lives of men and women who gave it all because they love Jesus. I don’t know many seminarians who haven’t thought about how cool it would be to be martyred while participating in the mission of the Church. Every guy has his own vision of it but we all have it. That may sound morbid to non-seminarians but let’s be honest; there is no greater love then to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. I also like to read about the strong women of the Church. They seem to have some of the clearest messages because they lived their lives with a level of transparency that many of us struggle to do today. I rarely took my mind out of their stories to actually ask their intercession however. This year that has changed and I think the Lord realized I needed the back up. I know this is already a long post but I’d like to tell you about some of my new friends who have been teaching me a few things this semester.
My friend Mary, she has been taking every aspect of my life and talking to me about it. She’s started to take the most confusing parts of my life and unscramble them. When she's around I see so clear what I am supposed to do, and she also helps me to truly feel how much God loves me.
My other friend John Paul, he’s been my sounding board. I love the Church and especially everyone in it but sometimes I feel like I don’t do enough. He always answers with hey man, just keep loving. I ask him how and he just smiles. That’s it. A lil ol’ smile and yet it’s never been so clear.
Whenever I’m mad I start reading some old letters I got from Paul. He’s like a big brother. He calls me out when I’m not following God’s will, but he’s also not afraid to pat me on the back when I’m going in the right direction. The best advice he has given me is probably ‘rejoice in the Lord always.’ What else could be better than that?
I have a bunch of friends I could tell you about but all of them have been pretty open with me about how they want to be your friends too. Whatever it is that’s on your heart, there is somebody out there who understands completely. If you don’t know who it could be, shoot me a message and maybe we can search and meet em’ together. God bless all of you.