|Message from the Director Chicago Seminarians |
As we enter this blessed season of Advent, a few words come back to me every year.
Hope The image of the pregnant Mary stirs up my own expectation of the Savior’s coming into my heart each day. Advent reminds us that Jesus comes towards us, full of his desire for us. A central question to which we return again and again in vocation ministry is: “What is God’s desire for your life?” God has not made us for nothing; rather, we are made to offer ourselves back again to our Creator. The only question is how we will do this. We stir up hope each year that more young men will respond to the Lord’s call to priesthood.
Poverty I cannot look at the Nativity scene without thinking of the poverty of Christ. “Although he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor 8:9). The simple way in which Jesus entered our humanity challenges us to live in like manner. The thought of becoming materially poor terrifies most of us (and rightly so!). Likewise, the call to celibacy often seems to be an impoverishment of love and human relationships. The witness of priests and religious who have lived their commitments for many years testifies to us of the riches God wishes to pour out on those who have space in their hearts and lives to receive!
Gift The Church talks about vocations (all of them) as ways for us to make a gift of ourselves. The Second Vatican Council reminded us beautifully that “man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself” (Gaudium et spes 24). At Christmas, we receive the gift of God himself, who takes on our humanity and makes his home with us. The call to priesthood invites men, in a powerful way, to share in solidarity with their brothers and sisters and to offer their lives for others. In my own work with candidates for the priesthood, I have always found generosity to be the principal virtue required for hearing God’s will and following where it leads.
God bless you, your families, and your parishes this Advent and Christmas.