It’s that time of year when the daylight begins to dwindle, but the workload in our daily lives only seems to be increasing. Life is relentless. It just keeps coming. One thing after another. We feel that we are always preparing for the next thing on the calendar and Christmas, for the large part in secular culture, is just the “next thing” on the calendar. There are deadlines to be met at work before the year ends. An abundance of Christmas parties and gatherings, both in the family and at the office, crash into our routine. The Christmas tree goes up, then just as quickly it comes down to coincide with our outlook on life. Holiday cheer enters stage right, then exits stage left just as abruptly. We enter Advent, move to Christmas Day, then quickly turn our attention back to the daily grind. The season plows us over before we know it, and by noon on Christmas Day, our sights are set on what is next on the checklist of things to be done. Things can be the same way for us within the confines of the seminary. My mind is racing on things I must do in preparation for Christmas. I’m looking at a checklist on my wall of things to do before my brother seminarians and I depart the daily routine of seminary life to come back home to the Archdiocese. Finish this assignment. Check. Clean room. Check. Forward mail. Check. Meet with seminary faculty. Check. However, there is one thing, not on the board that is easily overlooked. It should have been at the top of the list in huge black ink, “Remember to slow down and give thanks.”
We have much to be thankful for this time of year, but it tends to get swallowed up in the abyss of busyness and mental checklists. As a seminarian finishing my 5th year studying for the Archdiocese of Mobile, my brother seminarians and I want to slow down this hectic season long enough to give thanks for all of you. Words cannot express our gratitude for the good people throughout the Archdiocese of Mobile for the generous prayers and support that you all graciously bestow upon us. It is evident through your kind words when we return home to our respective parishes and in the outpouring of support we receive during the school year by your prayer intentions and cards that we receive in the mail on a daily basis. On behalf of all the men discerning our calls to the priesthood, we are deeply humbled by your outpouring of love. I’ve had the opportunity to get to know so many of you in each corner of the Archdiocese and everywhere in between. We are truly blessed to be given this opportunity to follow the Lord’s call, and you all make that possible for us. We more fully understand the joy St. Paul felt when he was addressing the early Church and the various pockets of Christians found in each community. “First, I give thanks to my God through Jesus Christ for all of you because your faith is heralded throughout the world.” (Rom. 1:8) Your faith inspires us, and it is something we in seminary take very seriously. We look forward to the day of coming back to our home and, God willing, serving the Lord and you, his people, as priests.
As we prepare for the coming of the Lord this Christmas, please know that all of you remain in our daily prayers. We look forward to seeing many of you this Advent/Christmas Season while we are in our parishes and beyond. Please continue to pray for us and our vocations so that God will give us the strength to be the good, holy priests the Archdiocese of Mobile deserves and the good, holy priests he calls us to be. May God bless you all abundantly this season.