It was really funny how I came to find out about it. About a month ago I was chatting with the seminarian in charge of our music for liturgies (oh yeah, did I mention I was leading a choir as well), and had to let him know I was going to have a scheduling conflict with my sacristan and choir duties later that week. “Oh yeah,” he said laughing, “and you’re going to be the head sacristan next semester too!” Caught me by surprise! I wouldn’t be honest if I said I wasn’t a little thrilled. It was kind of what I wanted all along. But I’d be even more honest to say it was a bit of an overwhelming moment. I think they had just made me officially the busiest seminarian on campus!
But so far it has me thinking mainly of two things: first, I need to pray now more than ever before, and secondly, I need to pray now more than ever before. One of my favorite sayings about prayer is that we all need to spend thirty minutes of quiet prayer every day; except for those who are the busiest among us, we need to spend a full hour. And I’m learning that the more and more I become a leader here at the Seminary, and for the Church, really, the more I need to become a follower.
If we have not first heard the Shepherd’s voice calling us to follow Him, how could we possibly hope to get others to come with us. Pope Francis is challenging all of us by telling us that we shepherds need to smell more like the sheep. But I figure, before we can start smelling like the sheep, we’ve got to hear His voice, the Shepherd’s call, God telling us, I will come running after you, I run faster than You, and I will not let you go, I will put you on My shoulders and bring you home. Then maybe we can let others know we have heard that call, that it is beautiful and comforting and compelling and trustworthy and challenging, and there is nothing in this world that even compares to hearing our name called by the Shepherd.
Oh but it’s so easy to get wrapped up in that voice and keep it to ourselves too. Have you ever sat in prayer and at Mass and thought, I don’t want to leave this, I want to stay here and leave all the world’s problems outside and just stay with you God. I know I could easily become a sacristy seminarian. There’s nothing wrong with taking pride in making God’s house a beautiful place, in doing all we can to make it so that everyone else need only prepare their hearts for Mass. But when I’d rather polish incense thuribles than let my rough edges be worked out before the Tabernacle, or I’d rather lose sleep over dirty purificators than learn to rest in receiving Him in the Eucharist, then I’ve got a serious problem. I’d be keeping it all to myself, in a way.
So if we hear that voice of the Good Shepherd in some way, if we feel like we’re being called to something great (which we all are!), it’s only because we’re going to follow Him first.