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The final countdown

First slide

Toothbrush, shampoo, comb: check. Passport, wallet, breviary: check. Trash emptied, coffee pot clean, lights off: check. And so go the final preparations before a trip. Going to seminary in Rome has acquainted me well with packing and preparing. As I head into my last semester of seminary and look forward to priestly ordination June 1, God willing, I’ve begun to turn my attention to the final preparations I need to make before embarking on this lifelong journey as a priest of Jesus Christ.

What exactly does a seminarian need to do in the final months before ordination? It helps me to break them down into three categories: practical, ecclesiological and spiritual.

The practical. There is a lot more to planning for an ordination than one might think. Firstly, it is a grand occasion so there naturally needs to be a celebration afterward. This doesn’t happen spontaneously, so my gracious mother and sister have been helping me plan a celebration for some family and close friends. Next, a priest needs to have all the necessary “tools of the trade:” stoles, an alb, a chalice, the proper ritual books for the sacraments, such as baptism and marriage. It’s like that list of school supplies we used to get the first week of school. Then, lest you forget, there is a whole semester of school left: papers to write, tests to take and books to read. And finally, in a few months, I will begin the actual process of packing up all my things in boxes to ship home.

The ecclesiological. Even after all the years of formation, a seminarian actually has to formally ask the bishop to be ordained, in a process known as “petitioning for orders.” After the faculty of the seminary has made a judgment that you are well prepared and fit to be ordained, you write a letter to your bishop stating your readiness to be ordained, your confidence in God’s call, and your freedom in making this lifelong commitment, and ask that he call you to holy orders. When the bishop has received your letter and prayerfully discerned your readiness, he will write a letter, the “Call to orders,” that officially calls you forward to be ordained. This process is a very affirming experience because God’s will for your vocation is confirmed and made manifest through the discernment and action of the church. Personally, I am getting ready to write that letter in just a few short weeks.

The spiritual. I think perhaps the best way to prepare for ordination is by looking at the future in view of the past. Allow me to explain. After six years in seminary, it is hard to believe that it is almost at an end. So much has taken place, and I’ve grown in ways that I could never have anticipated. Reflecting back on these years fills me with so much gratitude for all of the many people, classes, experiences and times spent in prayer that have contributed to helping me discern my vocation. This place of gratitude brings about a greater love for the Lord, and a greater willingness to lay down my life for him. Above all the practical necessities, this spirit of reflection and gratitude is perhaps the best preparation of the heart that one can make before presenting himself for ordination.

Moschetto, who is from Our Lady of Hope Church in Potomac Falls, is in his third year of theology at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020