“We, for our part, love because He has first loved us” (1 John 4:19). The closer that Ordination comes, the more I find these words echoing in my heart, affirming that the initiative of love and the gift of my vocation do not belong to me. They belong to God. And so, the journey of seminary formation has been an exercise in trust and in learning that there is nothing that comes from God that is not a manifestation of His love – including, and especially, my vocation.
When I entered seminary, I was filled with anxiety about my past and my future. What was I giving up? Where would God lead me? Am I worthy of this vocation? I must admit, I would be lying if I said those questions did not still arise in my heart from time to time. But in response, seminary formation has taught me this above all things: God is constantly gazing upon me with a Fatherly love. The journey of seminary is a journey to the Father’s heart.
No one enters seminary perfectly formed and ready to be a priest. In a sense, no one leaves seminary that way either. But I have learned that when we place ourselves in the Father’s gaze and experience the transformative power of His love in our own hearts, then we are at least prepared to offer ourselves as living vessels of that love for others, a love that can do far more than we have ever thought or imagined.
By: Chris Ford, soon-to-be Transitional Deacon