Being a seminarian means living in community. It can be rough at times, you live, eat, pray, sleep, and work besides 40 or so men your own age and you really get to know each other. I mean REALLY get to know each other. I always say that my seminarian friends are my best friends that I have ever and will ever have, and that is true. We share intimate things with one another, it’s all part of the formation process.
Whether it be asking your brother to pray for you because you are struggling with a particular sin, asking them about their spiritual life practices as a way to enhance your own, or just unloading all of the struggles that you have been having that day to someone and having them listen and give you support, seminary community life is full of such moments. In Formation, both spiritual and human, we are encouraged to go deep, to in a sense: “Stretch out our nets for a catch” Luke 5:4. Formation can be a challenge. There, I’ve said it. Having someone else tell you what they see you struggling with, holding you accountable, and encouraging you to grow can be hard. Why? Because we as humans like to be private! We don’t like to let people inside and see our broken-ness, our failings, our hurts, and our fears.
But, it is necessary! For growth! For Holiness! For Heaven!
Living in community, has it’s moments. Good and bad. I like to normally focus on the good, but for a short post, I want to focus on the bad.
“If your brother has sinned against you…”
Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar,
and there recall that your brother
has anything against you, leave your gift there at the altar, go first and be reconciled with your brother. Matthew 5:23-24
Living in Community, we tend to rub down each other’s hard edges into smooth spots, but in order to do that, we find our sharp spots and those tend to hurt. Christ, in Matthew’s Gospel says that when we go to the Altar and recall that our brother has sinned against us, we should first go and make amends with him, before we continue at the Altar. This has always been something that I have found beneficial to myself. If I am going to go and receive communion, I have to be free of hatred, envy, anger, toward my brothers. The sign of peace that we give to our closest neighbors at Mass is just that. A sign of peace, of an end to division, an end to anger against our neighbor.
God has a sense of humor, or at least he likes to make me smile and say, “Gee, thanks God! I’ve really been foolish this time!” There’s countless moments, I find, as I go about my day, in which I laugh at my own stupidity. Laugh at my own humaness.
Recently, I went to Mass in the morning after finding out the night before a sin that my brother had committed against me. It was an action which really cut close to home and made me feel quite upset. I had prayed the night before for God to give me the strength to deal with it and for Mamma Mary to help me to forgive him. Lo and behold during Mass the next morning, celebrated in Mary’s honor I was near the brother who sinned against me. While I struggled with the idea of forgiving him, when the time of peace came around I felt an immense sense of peace and as I offered him a sign of peace I made peace with him.
There is much to be said of forgiveness. Christ, forgave his killers as he hung across the cross, countless saints have forgiven their persecutors. Imagine what this world would be like if people learned to make peace with one another and forgive each other’s short comings. Something which I pride myself in trying to remind myself constantly that I am a sinner and when others sin against me, I could have sinned against them first. Let by-gones, be just that. By-gones! Let now-be’s, be now-be’s!
Live in each moment. Take each day, each encounter as a gift from God. Strive for what is eternal! Leave behind the temporal vices of this life! Forgive, be at peace, reconcile yourselves to each other. If your brother has sinned against you, do not let the sun go down on your anger, forgive him. Because hopefully in the future, he will forgive you.