Sunday Reflection | One Day Within Your Courts | Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Saint John's Seminary
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Sunday Reflection | One Day Within Your Courts | Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

February 11, 2023

My room at the seminary faces directly across from the façade of the St. John’s Seminary Chapel. Etched over the door of that chapel are the first words of Psalm 84: “Quam dilecta tabernacula tua Domine Virtutum.” “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord of Hosts.” The chapel is indeed lovely. It is magnificent and strikingly beautiful. Most importantly, however, it is the dwelling place of the Lord of Hosts. The chapel, where every seminarian will spend thousands of hours during his years at Saint John’s, is the place where Christ forms the future priests of the Church.

St. John Paul II once noted, “The priest prolongs the presence of Christ the Good Shepherd in the midst of his flock.” One might say that the priest himself becomes a unique dwelling place of the presence of the Good Shepherd. The seminary exists in order to form priests, so that the people of today can encounter the Good Shepherd, be fed by him, and—when they have become lost—be carried back by him to the Father. It is primarily in the seminary chapel where—through prayer and through the Sacraments—the seminarian is inwardly transformed so that he can more and more say with St. Paul, “It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). In the lovely dwelling place of Saint John’s Chapel, the seminarian is transformed into a dwelling place for the Good Shepherd.

Seminary formation takes place in other places too. Whether at meals, their desks, in the classrooms, or in their apostolic assignments, the Holy Spirit is at work in these men. This past year, however, I saw another surprising place where seminary formation takes place; the basketball court.

On their own initiative, a group of seminarians wakes up several days a week at 5am, and then they run a mile to a nearby gym, practice for an hour, run back to the seminary, and are at Morning Prayer and Mass at 7am. Next week they will travel to an inter-seminary basketball tournament in Milwaukee, and a few weeks ago they organized and hosted a basketball tournament at the seminary. Teams from parishes all over New England participated.

It has been a real source of joy to watch these seminarians dedicate themselves to this endeavor, to build up their fraternity, and to draw others closer to the Lord. The tournament that the seminarians organized a few weeks ago was amazing! Besides the many basketball games that went on all day long, young men from all over New England also attended Mass, adored the Eucharist during a Holy Hour, and went to Confession. It was such a truly Catholic day!

What all of this shows me is that formation works. The time these seminarians spend with the Eucharistic Lord is truly forming them into men on fire for the Lord, men who become places of encounter for others. They are men who want others to experience the joy that comes from being close to Christ. I hope that you are as encouraged by these seminarians as I am.

It is a privilege to witness their devotion and their apostolic zeal and joy. When I look around the chapel and see them kneeling devoutly before the Eucharist or when I see them on the basketball court building up fraternity and drawing others closer to Christ, my heart wells up with deep gratitude for what the Lord is doing in and through these men. Seeing these things makes another line from Psalm 84 arise in my heart: “One day within your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.”