Thursday, March 20, 2014

Blessed Occasions & Causes for Celebration

     Kevin and I both felt the Holy Spirit present in a big way throughout our trip to St. Mary's Seminary and University in Baltimore, Maryland.  We went up there with Carl and Cathy for the institution of their son (and a number of his brother seminarians) to the ministry of acolyte.  
A number of family, friends, some priests we recognized, and others we would meet for the first time, gathered together to celebrate Mass on Monday, March 10, 2014, at 4:30pm.  It was really uplifting to see the Vicar for Vocations from the Diocese of Richmond, Fr. Michael Boehling, among those who had traveled several hours to offer his support and prayers. 
     We experienced a great deal of joy being present for such a blessed occasion.  Kevin was positively beaming through the entire event.  Bishop Joseph C. Bambera from the Diocese of Scranton presided at the Mass.  His homily was beautiful and thought-provoking.  The ceremonies of institution to Lector, for those in their first year of seminary, and Acolyte, for those in their second year, were also quite moving. 
  There is something incredibly powerful about having so many priests in one place for any reason, but what always gets me the most is when they are praying the Eucharistic prayers in unison, some standing on the altar with the bishop, and others from their place in the first section of pews on either side of the altar. 
     The seminarian choir gathered near the piano after Communion to sing a reflection.  I had trouble recalling the last time I’d heard such a strong all-male group raising their hearts and voices to the Lord, thereby, praying twice.       
     I’m absolutely convinced that if more Catholics from all walks of life came to such events, we would have an increase in vocations to marriage, the priesthood, and religious life as well as a whole lot more people regularly praying and encouraging the young men and women who are actively discerning and following the Lord’s call for their lives. 

A Message to John and his brother seminarians: You have been given another level of grace with these new responsibilities.  And with responsibility in a Catholic and priestly sense comes a need for greater dedication to the Lord, more humility, and a deeper level of interior and exterior submission to Christ.  You are up to these challenges.  Your professors, classmates, family, and friends know this.  Most importantly Christ knows this.  Christ is counting on you, and He expects you to be counting on Him.  Anything that is true, holy, and good is possible if you will set aside your ideas and ways in order to submit all that you were, are, and will be to the Lord to use however He determines is best in time and eternity.  
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