Sunday reflection by Reverend David Barnes, Director of Spiritual Formation - July 18, 2021
One of my favorite lines from the Psalms is, “He has put into my heart a marvelous love for the faithful ones . . . “(Ps. 16). Whenever I read that line, I think that is really what it is to be a priest. I think of the parishioners I’ve met along the way and the students who I met when I was a chaplain at Boston University. The mere thought of them makes my heart fill up with love. It is a love that doesn’t belong, by right, to me or to any priest. It is a love that is given to the priest by Christ. It is Christ’s pastoral love that is poured into the heart of a priest.
Since I’m fairly new to the seminary faculty, I’m often asked by people if I miss the university or if I miss being a parish priest. It’s a fair question! The answer for me is found in that psalm. That love for his faithful ones is still there, still filling my heart.
When I look at the men who study at our seminary, my heart is filled with a great love for them. These future shepherds will love the “faithful ones” to whom they are sent. They are men who will be close to their people, men who will serve. They are are serious and joyful, prayerful and studious. They possess a great humanity and maturity about them.
I trust that the seminarians who come to Saint John’s recognize that the priests who serve here have hearts that are filled with a marvelous love, both for them and for the people whom they will one day serve. For me personally, it’s a great joy to know that the wonderful people of our parishes and universities will one day welcome these men as their priests.
After twenty-four years of priesthood, I still feel like I’m learning how to be a priest. It’s still new and fresh. The Lord is still showing me new things, still pouring his marvelous love for the faithful into my heart. It’s a privilege to witness how the Lord is working in the hearts of these young men, so that he can put his marvelous love for his faithful ones into them. Seeing this happen is a beautiful gift and it fills me with extraordinary joy for our seminarians and for the people they will one day serve.
To be a diocesan priest is to be filled with a marvelous love for the Lord’s faithful ones. Saint John’s Seminary is a place where the Holy Spirit is preparing the hearts of seminarians to be filled with a marvelous love for his faithful ones.