It is easy to look around our little parish and see God’s work in many ways. The Capital Campaign is going so well, and our Perpetual Adoration chapel is up and running. Indeed we are blessed. But there is one in particular thing I would like to mention that has impacted my life deeply, and has been a stepping-stone in the road that has led me to start seminary. Many of you know we celebrate both forms of the mass here at Holy Rosary: the “Novus Ordo” or new mass, and the Extraordinary Form. But how many of us know what a treasure the Extraordinary Form is!
The first time I heard of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass was five years ago. It was the summer of 2007, and my mom heard there was a priest teaching kids how to serve the old mass. Of course, it being summer and I being thirteen, I was reluctant to say the least. But as things progressed, I found myself entranced by what I was learning. The Latin responses, the meanings of the movements and gestures, the reverence and solitude of it all captivated me. It took us until the end of summer until we had it all down. And as time went by, I found myself trying to learn more and more about the liturgy of the Mass. It developed in me a curiosity that wouldn’t rest, which led me to Gregorian chant and the development of my voice. In the time I spent at Holy Rosary, I remember many times thinking about being a priest. I have never been certain, and still remain in doubt. This past year I was on the fence concerning what profession I wanted to go into. Seminary was the last thing on my mind, but there was one moment that really pushed me into it.
Back in November of 2011, I was fortunate enough to go on a pilgrimage with our Bishop. Every place we visited was beautiful and rich with history. In almost every direction you looked, there was a statue by some 12th century sculptor, or a mural depicting some part of Christ’s life. But the thing I wanted to see most were the Catacombs of St Sebastian. It was exciting for me how the early church fled into hiding from her persecutors into these miles of tunnels. And even though it was the buildings I wanted to see, it was the basilica built on top of them that impacted me the most. As I entered the church I didn’t stop to look at any of the side altars or art, I just went straight to the main altar to pray. And as I prayed I was asking God for some direction in my life. I begged Him over the course of the whole pilgrimage to give me an answer. As I sat there with my eyes closed our tour guide tapped me on the shoulder telling me we will be going soon. “Just the answer I expected,” I thought as I slowly got up and walked down the isle of the church. But as I walked, I stopped in front of one of the side altars. A slab of stone with footprints in it caught my eye. Directly underneath it was a little inscription that read, “Quo Vadis?” Quo Vadis? I thought, standing there for a moment trying to recall my Latin and that’s when it came to me. It said, “Where are you going?” I was intrigued. What is this? I thought as I stared the stone up and down. And as I stood there, our tour guide started going through the church rounding people up to leave, I waved him down and asked him what this stone was all about. He told me that as St. Peter was fleeing the city of Rome, Christ appeared to him with the question “Where are you going?” And at that moment St. Peter knew he must turn back and embrace his martyrdom for Christ. Christ left the footprints after his appearance. When he finished explaining, I just stood there, the words ringing through my head. It felt like someone was just banging on my chest over and over saying, “Where are you going?” The whole experience left me dazed. And after some time thinking and praying about it, I decided on applying to the seminary.
As the summer starts to wind down, and many of us return to school, please keep all of the seminarians of our diocese in your prayers, especially Chris Jarvis who is starting his studies overseas. May God continue to bless our little parish, and keep all of you in His grace.