So, here I am. For the first time in longer than I anticipated. This blog, which I opened for the year of St. Paul, and which flourished in the same, has languished during the Year for Priests, going unattended and left overgrown. This is ironic.
There were numerous reasons for this, work and a lack of free time being principal among them, but certainly numbered therein is a reason I have not discussed: I have been for some months now in the extended process of applying for seminary with the Diocese of Brooklyn. The application was gigantic, my own motivations sometimes unclear, and my eventual fate unknowable — these X-factors made me reluctant to discuss it online. What would I have to say other than “still working on it,” “stressing out over my psych eval,” and “more terrifying meetings,” again and again and again? I was also extremely reluctant to raise my own hopes by confidently and brazenly addressing the topic here, holding forth with the hoary assumption of my admission and my grandiose plans. What could I possibly say on the matter that wouldn’t be presumptuous, or at least presumptive?
That time, though, has passed, because today, I got the call. The process which culminated a week ago in the admissions board meeting that reviewed and discussed my application has officially reached its glorious apogee — the word came down from the mountain.
I am in.
That’s right. Barring anything unforeseen, in September, I will be a seminarian for the diocese of Brooklyn.
I attended, in February, a vocations retreat on something of a whim. I say a whim because I had had no plans to go, and didn’t really want to, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed to. Getting there would be frustrating, but I really had no compelling reason not to go; what would I do that cold night? Watch some reruns of Deep Space Nine, when I could be praying before the tabernacle, and discussing the future? And there, on that retreat, our bishop, Nicholas DiMarzio, spoke.
He spoke and said, “It’s like the Nike slogan: just do it. If you’re feeling the call, why wait? Why put it off? Seminary is itself part of figuring this whole mess out.” And I had no reason why not. In fact, it struck a chord with me, a sentiment I’d long felt but been unable to express, best summed up by this comic strip: I’m tired of saying “everything is too complicated right now, but maybe next year.” I’m sick of next year, of putting things off. So I decided to stop, and ask for this insane privilege.
Now, you all know I’m a big fan of Superman. Superman has been proposed as many things – in particular a Christ figure, as Alan Moore put it, “a perfect man who came from the sky and did only good,” – but I think he’s far more accurately called a saint. He’s a man with a great power who has done nothing but put himself at the service of an often-ungrateful populace. Service is his purpose. Service is his end. Service is his particular telos.
He’s always served for me as a sort of icon of the nature of vocation – knowing your purpose and therefore living it. I believe that we’re all made by God for some end, toward some end, some good, and it’s our duty to seek that, and embrace it. To do so is not only objectively good of itself, service qua service, it’s a recognition of the sovereignty of God over yourself. I believe God may be calling me to the priesthood, and as such, I would be foolish not to pursue it. If it is my end, my best good, shouldn’t I run after it, in wild trust and dedication? Even further, I think my disposition as a man makes me a good fit for priestly formation; I am oriented toward theology, liturgy, teaching, and counsel. These are the things toward which I have always gravitated, which I have pursued or had impressed upon me in my Christian life. If God is sovereign over the world, he can speak through it. I believe he has done so.
Well, Superman. I’ve just been accepted into superhero school.