Thursday, June 4, 2009

Called to preach the Gospel...

Reverend Colin Wen, called to preach the Gospel in the Diocese of Sacramento...

Well, I am eagerly waiting for the day when I can hear those words. And I just realized, I have already completed 3 years of formation, only 4 left to go! Yikes! Meanwhile, as this year comes to a close, another round of seminarians are receiving the call to orders and leaving the NAC. We had our closing banquet a few Fridays ago and we used that very phrase to congratulate and send off about 25 men to their respective dioceses.

Those words really struck me though. In the Gospel of John (20:21-23), "Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you." And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."

There is a real sense of our being sent. We are called by Jesus Christ to go out and be witnesses to the faith. We are called out of comfortable former ways. You can think of the Gospel of Luke where the 72 to are sent out with not so much as a change of clothing and told by Christ to wander through towns preaching the Gospel.

Obviously we may not always take on the same difficulties as those first disciples. But as seminarians, future priests, we are called to we enter the seminary and adapt to seminary life, to change seminaries and re-adapt, to head out for summer assignments in parishes and pastoral activities throughout the diocese, to get to know a new group of seminarians each year both in the seminary and in our diocese, and finally, to be sent to be a priest in a parish (or God forbid, to the chancery :) ).

My own experience serving a parish during Holy Week near Mt. Lassen with a hundred or so faithful was a challenge for me. The town was quiet, the parish was old, and there was not much I could do. I almost felt like the parish was dying. Why was I here? But even in that experience I found that Christ was needed. He needed to be preached to those in a nearby hospice. He was needed for those who had recently lost loved ones and almost lost the faith. He was needed for the few youth wondering what it meant to be Catholic. He was needed. Even there.

There is no moment when we can really 'settle in' for we are always being sent once more somewhere else. But this brings such a sense of adventure that our vocation can never grow stale. There is always a call to be sent to preach the Gospel, to the person in the hospital, to the man on the street, to the family that has not been to Mass in years, and to our own family members. Our work is never done.

And so while I cannot wait for the day to come when I can return to the Diocese of Sacramento and begin my service as a priest for the people of God, I likewise rejoice at the quiet hidden time I can enjoy in seminary life, preparing and forming myself in the Holy Spirit, to be the other Christ I need to be to save souls.


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