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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Choice Made

With two more months left, things are moving fast as the final year seminarians prepare themselves for their graduation and eventual insertion into the priestly ministry. They have their final Baccalaureate (Theology) exams to undergo and following that, the essential preparations for their diaconate and the priesthood.

I had a chance to speak to the final years as part of my quarterly 'chit-chat' session with them. What I could gather from them was their cautious enthusiasm and positive expectations for what the ministry ahead can be for them. This is a good indication that they men are clear in what their call is holding for them and we can hope that they will certainly be beacons of the life and love of God into the world.

Over here is an article which I couldn't say it better myself (with some slight adaptions to our local context in mind, though) concerning the realities of the priesthood ministry which I, myself, have undergone the past 10 years.

Some prominent pointers:

It is a cross to carry
Many candidates coming into the Seminary would inevitably have some expectations that this vocation is one that can be managed and somewhat easily accepted and taken up without too much of a major problem, in spite of all the negativity that can surround it. Sometimes a rather sweet and romanticised picture can be painted on this vocation that it doesn't bear any semblance to the crosses that are there.

Scripture tells us that any one who professes to work for God must prepare for trials and to undergo the furnace of humiliation (Sirach 2: 1, 5). That's the reality of it all.

Radical call to be counter-cultural
This is a total turning away from all the worldly elements of wealth, power, status, etc. and a following of the values of the Kingdom that is already enshrined in the Beatitudes (Matthew 5: 3 - 10). It is the moving into and the embracing of the realm of detachment.

In a place like Singapore where 'abundance' is everywhere, detaching oneself for the sake of the Kingdom can be quite an uphill battle. But, pushing ahead one must, if only to honestly and convincingly taking up and following after the heart of Christ.

Speaking the 'unspeakable'
The priest is to be a man of God. Construe in any way you wish, but one cannot escape that the priest, in his capacity of a relationship with God, would be dealing with matters that are out of this world and matters that, at the same time, are dealing with the realities of human living at their deeepest and profoundest.

As Matthew puts it, "Seek first the kingdom of God and everrything else will be given unto you..." We all can undersatnd the everything but it is the seeking first that we find difficulty in dealing with. The priest will always be challenged in this as he invites and share with people to come into this life because these are hard teachings. Nonetheless, he must continue to challenge the people to go beyond their myopic vision and get a glimpse of heaven where the everything is seen and felt for its truest sense.

Time will tell how our final year seminarians will weather throughtheir eventual priestly life. For now, we can only pray that they continue to be attentive to God's direction in theor lives and to stay close to his heart.

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