Above, the Rector and 4th theologians make their annual visit to the DC Nunciature, and Archbishop Christophe Pierre receives a copy of TC’s centennial volume, Ecce Quam Bonum: A History of Theological College.
A LETTER FROM THE RECTOR
Into the hillside country Mary went
Carrying Christ, and all along the road
The Christ she carried generously bestowed
His grace on those she met. She had not meant
To tell she carried Christ. She was content
To hide His love for her. But about her glowed
Such joy that into stony hearts love flowed,
And even to the unborn John Christ’s grace was sent.
Christ in His Sacrament of love each day
Dwells in my soul a little space and then
I walk life’s crowded highway, jostling men
Who seldom think of God. To these I pray
That I might carry Christ, for it may be
Some would not know of Him except through me.
(By Ruth Mary Fox)
This poem reminded me of the fact that in the Sulpician tradition, Mary, under the title Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, has a privileged place in the spirituality of a diocesan priest. Mary is the guide, the teacher, the role model for diocesan priests. The writer, Joseph Campbell, expresses that “the hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” Mary becomes for each seminarian and priest the pre-eminent example of heroic virtue. In 1974, Blessed Paul VI wrote, “The Blessed Virgin does not disillusion any of the profound expectations of the men and women of our time. She offers us a perfect model of a disciple of the Lord.” Her contemplative awareness displayed at the moment of the Annunciation, her courage in following her Son even as He carried His cross, her commitment to His message through Pentecost and beyond inspires seminarians to cultivate that same contemplative awareness, courage, and commitment.
The formation program at Theological College challenges each seminarian to develop the pastoral skills needed to walk life’s crowded highway as Mary did, jostling those who seldom think of God, carrying Christ knowing that some would not know of Him except through them. This challenge begins the moment a seminarian arrives at Theological College, and facing it requires self-knowledge, an intentional spiritual practice, an openness to feedback, and every possible opportunity to exercise the ministry of a disciple. Spiritual direction, formation advising, seminary friendships, and pastoral supervision are those relationships that can invite a seminarian to ask himself two fundamental questions: who are the people who carry Christ to him and to whom can he carry Christ each day?
As Theological College enters into its second century of service to the Church, the example of Mary continues to be a source of inspiration and challenge. As a seminarian arrives at Theological College for the first time, the statue of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom greets him; upon entering his room, the same statue awaits him. In the forward to his book, How the Irish Saved Civilization, Thomas Cahill wrote: “We normally think of history as one catastrophe after another, war followed by war, outrage by outrage — almost as if history were nothing more than all the narratives of human pain, assembled in sequence. But history is also the narratives of grace, the recounting of those blessed and inexplicable moments when someone did something for someone else, saved a life, bestowed a gift, gave something beyond what was required by circumstance.” With the person of Mary, we are provided with an extraordinary narrative of grace, one that can teach each seminarian to become for everyone he encounters a similar narrative of grace, a narrative desperately needed in a world that seems nothing more than a narrative of human pain. Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, pray for us.
Sincerely yours in Christ,