Above, at the outset of the semester, rector Rev. Gerald McBrearity presided at the Wednesday Eucharistic Adoration Hour in the Caldwell Hall Chapel, hosted weekly by the Basselin Scholars of Theological College.
A LETTER FROM THE RECTOR
Today’s Priest: A Candle and a Mirror
Each year during Lent, Theological College celebrates Tenebrae, a service of darkness. In this prayer service, darkness becomes the symbolic representation of the context in which the passion and death of Christ occurred. This is a darkness that is experienced by every person at some point in his or her life. It is a darkness experienced by many at this moment in our nation’s history and at this moment in our Church’s history. Yet amidst this darkness we are invited to turn our attention to the light of Christ, our hope. This is the reason we sing those astonishing words “light of Christ” at each Easter Vigil.
The mission of Theological College is to prepare a future generation of priests who will go forth to proclaim the light of Christ in a cultural and religious context that is at times dark and menacing, to be that person through whom a little more love and goodness, a little more light and truth comes into our world. This challenge is captured in the words of St. Teresa of Calcutta: “If we do not radiate the light of Christ around us, the sense of darkness that prevails in the world will increase.”
The American writer, Edith Wharton, wrote that “there are two ways of spreading light: to be a candle or to be a mirror that reflects it.” Jesus spreads the light of his Father’s love both as a candle casting a clear and bright light on the political and religious culture of his time and as a mirror, becoming for everyone he encountered a sacrament, a reflection of the Father’s compassion, gentleness, healing, and mercy. Theological College is committed to preparing each seminarian to be ordained to incarnate these two essential dimensions of Christ’s life, to be like a candle, a proclaimer of God’s message of truthfulness, responsibility, and justice, and to be like a mirror, a reflection of the Father’s healing and mercy. The significance of this challenge is captured in the words of Blessed James Alberione, the holy inspiration for TC’s Alberione Project (see the Media Evangelization page on this site): “The true personality is one that is rooted in Christ: that is, a personality in which our thoughts are conformed to the thoughts of Jesus; we think like Jesus, love what Jesus loves, desire and do what Jesus would desire and do.” Only then will the newly ordained be regarded by their parishioners as the “light of Christ.”
To be the light of Christ at this moment in history requires courage. Pope Francis has written: “True evangelization presumes a desire in the Church to come out of itself and go to the peripheries, not only geographically but also to areas where the mystery of sin, pain, injustice, ignorance, and indifference to religion has its permanent dwelling.” The intensive TC formation program seeks to educate each seminarian to the missionary zeal so needed at this time in history, a zeal evidenced in acts of charity, in concern for the poor, in a compassionate presence to those who are ill, in teaching and preaching skills, and in their capacity to collaborate and welcome feedback.
However, this missionary zeal can only make an impact in a world plagued by sadness if our seminarians, as future priests, are able impart a resurrection joy and to communicate hope and a profound happiness. In the Sulpician tradition, personal and spiritual accompaniment assist our seminarians to evidence this joyfulness and to acknowledge that, as priests, those under their care will need to hear why they smile, why they laugh, why they welcome others, why they wonder, why they don’t take themselves too seriously – in short, why they are, on the deepest level, happy. For when they smile and laugh, when they welcome and wonder, when they are happy, they are proclaiming that they are the light of Christ, courageous, holy, and joyful for a world that so desperately needs to hear the good news of Christ’s life, death, and resurrection.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Reverend Gerald McBrearity, P.S.S. (’73)