Two of the brothers here at the friary are to be ordained deacon tomorrow morning. Each in his own way has had a long journey toward the sacred ministry, and I'm very happy for them both. Pray for them, in thanksgiving to God for their vocations and for their openness to the graces that will open up for them in the days and seasons to come.
The occasion reminds me even more strongly that it was five years ago today, on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, that I was ordained deacon. It was at St. Peter's in Cambridge, Massachusetts, together with one other Capuchin and my Jesuit classmates through the laying on of hands of F.X. Irwin, retired auxiliary bishop of Boston. I have a few vivid memories of the day: How it was one of the only times I have ever worn a regular clerical outfit, since the dalmatics the Jesuits supplied for the ordination did not fit well over our Capuchin hoods. How when I prayed Midafternoon Prayer later in the day my spirit rejoiced at the first time I was praying the Liturgy of the Hours according to the promise of my ordination. How my provincial minister not long after the Mass informed me that I would be ordained priest on the Blessed Mother's birthday the following year.
That's five years in the clerical state, and what a journey it's turning out to be.
Reflecting on the whole business does a lot for me in appreciating grace. I didn't join the Order with any strong idea about being a priest; I just knew that I wanted to be a Franciscan. In fact, when I got into studies I found it hard to know how to even discern the question of whether or not to present myself as a candidate for Orders. Nevertheless, as I have prayed through the experience of priesthood these past few years, I have become convinced that it is a grace and vocation that God has been working in me for much longer than I ever knew.
This helps me to remember that our discernments and reflections on God's will for us are never complete, and that God's purposes in the greater economies of grace are larger than our own consciousness of what we call our spiritual life. Remembering this helps me to trust. All that is required is openness to what is at hand and faithfulness to the next step God reveals.