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Letter to a man entering the seminary


Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 08/30/16

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The Rev. Brian Cavanaugh, from Franciscan University, offers some great thoughts on Aleteia’s homepage—and they could apply to men beginning diaconate formation, as well:

There was a verse from the Book of Sirach that was a God-sent anchor through many a stormy times during those years of formation. So this is the first wisdom seed to pass along to you:

Book of Sirach 2:1–9 (NAB)

My son, when you come to serve the Lord,

prepare yourself for trials.

Be sincere of heart and steadfast,

undisturbed in time of adversity.

Cling to him, forsake him not;

thus will your future be great.

Accept whatever befalls you,

in crushing misfortune be patient;

For in fire gold is tested,

and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation.

Trust God and he will help you;

make straight your ways and hope in him.

You who fear the Lord, wait for his mercy,

turn not away lest you fall.

You who fear the Lord, trust him,

and your reward will not be lost.

You who fear the Lord, hope for good things,

for lasting joy and mercy.

In preparation for reading the Bible, I would recite a brief prayer that helped me focus my thoughts and opened my heart to listen to God’s Word speak to me. Later on, I found out I was praying a variation of the prayer known as

St. Francis Prayer to Discern God’s Will

Said Before The Crucifix

Most High, glorious God,

enlighten the darkness of my heart,

and give me right faith, certain hope, and perfect charity,

wisdom and understanding, Lord,

that I may carry out your holy and true command. Amen.

This is a prayer of expectation, Raphael, expecting God to respond to you. I’ve found that God oftentimes does meet us in our expectations, though seldom in our wistful wishes. This is another wisdom seed to pass along.

And then he adds something invaluable for homilists and future homilists:

You might consider writing down quotations, stories, or whatever you come across in your own readings that you want to save and recall, or use later on in a homily or retreat. One of our friars suggested this to me early on in formation. He said your memory isn’t that good and you will forget what it was or from where you read it. I started writing down those quotations and stories that deeply spoke to me; now I have 63 volumes filled up with more to come.

To read the full letter, visit this web site. It’s worth it.

Image: Vimeo

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