The seminary is an interesting place... for many reasons... one of the interesting experiences that I had as a seminarian was to study and practice celebrating the sacraments, and in regards to the basic principles of celebrating the sacraments, rubrics, etc. I am prepared and competent to minister. However, over the past week-and-a-half I have experienced things the seminary did not, nor could it ever have prepared me for... when I actually entered into celebrating Reconciliation (Confession), Anointing of the Sick, and Communion calls as a priest I felt and sensed God's presence and witnessed God's presence in ways I never have before and never thought possible... but it happened... and I am grateful... and profoundly touched in some supernatural unexplainable way... blown away if you will by experiencing God's grace, healing, and mercy in new ways.
When I celebrated the Anointing of the Sick first with my grandfather (my first time and truly a special moment) and assisted at an Anointing Mass at my home parish, St. Bede the Venerable in Mentor, OH (see websites/links) I was captivated by two things. First, the thought that I can bring God's healing presence to another person, and that God's grace works through me (and my brother priests) in a unique way such as this floors me... who am I that God called me to do this special thing... the words of Jesus in Matthew's Gospel this weekend, "Follow me," come to mind and these two simple but profound words have taken on new meaning for me... talk about entering into the Mystery! It feels like God is reaching down from the Supernatural into our natural world and I'm at the tip of His fingers helping to communicate His grace. It is not me but God working through me... working through me... ... ...wow!
Second, I have been profoundly touched by how people have sought the Lord in time of need and sorrow. To see the tears in my brother's and sister's eyes as they receive the grace of God's healing sacraments has caused me to me to wonder at times how anyone could doubt God's presence... I do not know... yes there are tragic things that take place in our lives and in this world that are not in the world to come... and yes, these sort of events can shake, rattle, and roll one's faith I'm sure... but to see my brothers and sisters lean in and receive the grace of God reaching out to them - yes, God is real, God is, was, and always will be alive, and yes God is present even when we think He may not be. Christ: yesterday, today, and forever!!!
To conclude my thoughts this time around, I know I've only been a priest for only just under a month, I don't have the greatness of years of experience of my brother priests, but even in my short time I have experienced the greatness of God, it has been awesome and I hunger for more. This life is truly grace filled! If you've considered a vocation in the Church, pray over Jesus' words in Matthew's Gospel today: "Follow me," hear Jesus speaking to you, ask what this means for you, accept where God is calling you, and let these words resonate within you once again, and lastly: FOLLOW HIM.
Take your candle and go light your world...