As some of you may know already, one of our parishioners, Mr. M. Furey, has been appointed by the Bishop to begin training for the priesthood at seminary and he will be off there soon. As I’ve said elsewhere, this is a great honour for his family and also for the parish. We’re going to continue to pray for our man in the seminary and hope that we shall one day soon see him in the Roman collar. As they tell us when we have begun this rather long journey through the seminary, men do not reach for this Sacrament of their own volition, although they may aspire to it (see I Timothy, 3: 1 and following) – it is given them, it must be given to them, it is given for the Church. It is a gift. Here is a short extract from the Catechism:
“No one has a right to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders. Indeed no one claims this office for himself; he is called to it by God. Anyone who thinks he recognizes the signs of God’s call to the ordained ministry must humbly submit his desire to the authority of the Church, who has the responsibility and right to call someone to receive orders. Like every grace this sacrament can be received only as an unmerited gift.
“All the ordained ministers of the Latin Church, with the exception of permanent deacons, are normally chosen from among men of faith who live a celibate life and who intend to remain celibate “for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.” Called to consecrate themselves with undivided heart to the Lord and to “the affairs of the Lord,” they give themselves entirely to God and to men. Celibacy is a sign of this new life to the service of which the Church’s minister is consecrated; accepted with a joyous heart celibacy radiantly proclaims the Reign of God.”Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1578-1579 [link]
The picture at the top of this post is rather old, but it demonstrates the way that the seminary system is still to a great extent structured, with the seminarists going through several stages, ending up with the major orders of deacon and then priest. There is a great humility with which this whole process, appointed about four and a half centuries ago, must be received by every man entering the seminary, which is why I end this short post with the emblem of crowned humility adopted by the great Reformation hero Saint Charles Borromeo for himself. We must constantly pray for the perseverance needed by our church students as they work their way through the years of seminary formation.