Culture of Life
Thought of Priesthood? Oh, Yes
Tucker Cordani looks back on how he discerned that God has, indeed, been calling him to the priesthood — a little later than usual. (He’s 36 and starting seminary this summer.)
BY Tucker Cordani
June 17-23, 2007 Issue | Posted 6/12/07 at 9:00 AM
“It’s a matter of trust.” That line from the ’80s’ hit song by Billy Joel means a lot to me today.
Last week, I received my acceptance letter from Blessed John XXIII National Seminary outside Boston. It’s official: I’m going to study for the priesthood. Classes begin in August.
Trusting Jesus, I sold nearly everything I owned at a yard sale in May. Then I vacated my house and moved in with my spiritual director for the summer — all before receiving my letter.
“Blind faith?” an acquaintance asked.
“Exactly,” I replied.
In his book Praying the Psalms, Trappist monk Thomas Merton writes about building trust in God by meditating on the Psalter in order to “obtain the peace that comes from submission to God’s will and perfect confidence in him.”
By praying the Liturgy of the Hours, studying Scripture and receiving the Eucharist, I have developed a closer, more trusting relationship with the Lord and rediscovered my vocation.
I started thinking about the priesthood as a student at St. Peter School in Connecticut. The pastor sent boys on discernment retreats. My first was to Holy Apostles College and Seminary outside Hartford, but it was the second visit, to the Legionaries of Christ novitiate near New Haven, that I remember best.
We arrived Friday afternoon, said vespers, then awoke Saturday and helped the religious with chores before Mass. We ate with the seminarians in an enormous refectory. The afternoon was devoted to recreation. We played basketball and went sledding. I enjoyed being at a place where holy men of all ages devoted themselves to God.
On Sunday, I came home and told my parents I wanted to be a priest. Was I serious? There was more to it than good food and tobogganing. I truly felt called to make this radical commitment to a life of service through faith in Jesus Christ.
Then I graduated from St. Peter and enrolled in public high school. Worldly preoccupations eclipsed the call. After college, I worked in education and media — including some recent freelance reporting assignments for the Register — but continued to think about the priesthood. If I really had a vocation, it would return on its own.
And so it did. When John Paul the Great died, I returned to following Christ. His birth to eternal life had deepened, or perhaps re-awakened, my faith. One morning, I knelt in the chapel praying the Rosary when a woman approached me. She asked: “Ever thought about becoming a priest?”
Actually, of course, I had. And I told her so. The next thing I knew I was sitting in a vocation director’s office. He posed the question: “What does God want you to do with your life?” After a period of prayerful contemplation of that question, I decided to apply to the Diocese of Springfield, Mass.
The Catechism teaches that we must know and love Jesus in order to proclaim his Word. How to know him? My spiritual director told me Christ is present in prayer, Scripture and the sacraments; he suggested I attend Mass daily and cited St. Paul’s words: “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
A priest is called to be a man of prayer. Each day, I study Scripture and pray the Divine Office in order to know, and conform myself with, “the mind of Christ.”
Additional discernment retreats and holy hours have helped me reinforce the mysterious excitement I felt visiting seminaries as a boy. It was like being 12 years old again.
Daily Mass is paramount, for the priesthood and the Eucharist are inseparable. I can’t discern the God’s call without my daily bread, which helps me to know, love and trust the Lord. Every time I receive Communion I open my mind, heart and soul to him a little more.
I’m 36, so I’ve lived a bit. I know that the priesthood calls for sacrifice and submission. But consolation comes in remembering my Dante: “In your will is our peace, Lord.” By trusting God I have come to know the peace that surpasses understanding.
Tucker Cordani writes
from Orlando, Florida —
but not for long.
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