The Mysteries of Light seem particularly appropriate at this time of year. Given my preference for shadows, the fact that I love praying them is somewhat paradoxical--but then, no light, no shadows, so perhaps it makes sense after all......of all the mysteries, these have thrust their roots deep in my daily life. They speak to plain, everyday existence, that march of ordinary days that makes up the journey. They teach me how remarkable even the ordinary can be.
The Baptism in the Jordan: If I have trouble dealing with light, Father, I have even more trouble dealing with water. You created me a desert person, happy to live in the sands and fearful of water unrestricted. I share the fear the first century Jew had for the ocean depths, and for me, the roaring river and the deep lake are not far behind. Water, deep water, frightens me.
Except for the deepest water, the water of baptism. You tamed the water for me, Jesus and made it a vehicle of restoration rather than fear. The change needful in my life came when the waters of baptism, sanctified by Your Presence, were poured over my head, relieving, remaking, refreshing me.
May our seminarians be refreshed daily by the waters of their baptism. May they recall it every time they dip their hands in a font, draw a glass from the tap, pass by a lake, an ocean or a stream, feel the rain on their faces Their baptism was the start of their call from You, Father. Clean and restored by Your sacrament, may they be men of the baptismal covenant, leading others to the waters.
The Wedding at Cana: I know the traditional lessons of this mystery, but this has always spoken to me in a different way, I find great pleasure in the fact that the first miracle occurred at a party, with Jesus in attendance. God is truly there at our times of joy, and if asked, will make them so much better than we planned. It is a good thing to celebrate in this life, a good thing to enjoy time with friends and take part in their joys as well as their sorrows. Sorrows follow soon enough--let us be certain to take time to enjoy the pleasures we are afforded as gifts from God. Let us remember that the men set apart to serve us as priests ought not be excluded from sharing our ordinary joys.
May we remember that joy shared is joy multiplied. Let us remember to include our seminarians in the pleasures and celebrations of our lives, not just the somber and liturgical times. They are set apart by God, but intended to be in the very midst of His people. Help us to remember that.
The Proclamation of the Kingdom: Jesus spoke to ordinary people in ordinary ways in ordinary circumstances, and made them extraordinary. He taught the Kingdom not just in the temple, but on roadsides, on mountains, in boats, in houses, at table, and the people came from miles around to see and to hear. The message of the Kingdom is such a gift, and so hard to learn and to live! But it is intended for me, and I need to be reminded.
May our seminarians be blessed with teachers who proclaim the Kingdom clearly and lovingly, so that they, too can preach it in their own time. May the message of Christ live in their hearts and show in their lives, in ordinary places, with ordinary people.
The Transfiguration: Ah, Peter the Everyman....It is good for us to be here; if you wish, I can erect three booths...Peter had the immediate understanding that something wonderful was happening in that remote place far from the precincts of the temple, where God was supposed to do His work, even though he wasn’t certain what that was. And like all of us, he wanted as much to act in it as to simply be a part of it and savor it. Getting a glimpse of God’s glory is like that...
May our seminarians get a glimpse of that glory, and understand the power of the Transfiguration--Jesus’ and their own. Like Peter, make them men who respond to the power of God revealed to them, respond in their action, in their service, in a desire to build God a place in their very lives.
The Establishment of the Eucharist: Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the earth. In the upper room, around a common table, with simple unleavened bread and common wine, in the course of an established and familiar custom, Christ gave us not only Himself in the Eucharist, but the priests who will bring Him to us and keep Him near.
He transformed the familiar into something precious beyond comprehension, and then gave it to the Church for safekeeping. He gave us His very Self, body and blood, soul and divinity. What was He thinking, the Creator of the Universe under the appearances of a wafer of bread, a drop of wine? God in the midst of the most ordinary and familiar of things and circumstances. God with us, pursuing us beside us, always. Here for our present, minute by minute, in what we do, alongside us at every instant. The lesson of the Mysteries of Light, the lesson of life itself.
If the center of the Catholic life is the Eucharist, how much more so for the men who will be priests? Hushed and in awe, I cannot begin to understand the breadth and depth of the miracle of the Eucharist. Help me carry it at the deepest part of my being, even if it eludes my understanding. Help me to reverence it, honor it, and to carry forth Christ in me.
Our seminarians will be first and foremost men of the Eucharist. Give them a deep love for Christ in the Eucharist. Fill them and form them and strengthen them with Your presence in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Blessed Sacrament, and accept our prayers we bring to your altar our prayers for them and their intentions.