“Home is where your mother is.” This slogan is imprinted on a coffee mug that was a gift for me. No surprise, the mug was given to me by my mom! She wanted to make sure I knew that no matter where I was, “home” would always be where my family is. Well, she’s absolutely right about that for my immediate family, but it’s also true for my religious family, the Congregation of Holy Cross. That’s been proven true all the more in my first year as vocations director. This year, I’ve had the chance to travel more than in any other year of my life. I have been to a friend’s wedding in Palm Springs (California), attended a meeting of vocations directors in Rome, talked with college students in Phoenix, King’s College, University of Portland, and Stonehill College, and as I’m writing this, Father Jarrod and I are preparing to go on pilgrimage to Rome again with several students from Notre Dame and Holy Cross College. Each stop has been significant because of the good work involved, but more so because each trip has involved a “coming home” of sorts, where I have been able to be with Holy Cross priests and brothers no matter what my destination. Whether or not I’ve known those guys before my visit, it was easy to be with them at table, at prayer, and in ministry as brothers in Holy Cross.
The three educational institutions (King’s College, University of Portland, and Stonehill) were all great trips, because I was able to talk with students about their prayer and give them tools for how to discern God’s call (very similar to conversations I regularly have at Notre Dame, where I live and work most of the time). Some of the students were interested in talking about religious life or the priesthood, others simply wanted to find out how they can be absolutely sure that they’ve been studying the right thing, or that the next step they’ve chosen is the right one, or just what it means to pray and have a relationship with God. In other words, their questions are what almost all of us have had at one point or other in our lives!
Hopefully the talks that I had with them were helpful for them. Whenever I talk about prayer or discernment it helps me, because it brings me to pray more for those who are discerning what God’s will is for them. Gratefully, we have opportunities like our pilgrimage to Rome to bring each of you to our prayer. In Rome we will be praying in many churches and holy sites, most especially at the Jubilee Doors of the major basilicas. Our pilgrimage will include a homecoming of sorts, because we will celebrate Mass with some of the priests and brothers of our Generalate, and I’m sure it will feel just like we are with family.
The life that we lead as brothers and priests in Holy Cross can send us across many borders, but we are never alone. We have Christ with us, of course, and wherever we see the cross and anchors, we are with family. That feeling of family is pretty special, but not unusual in our congregation. So “home is where your mother is”, to be sure, but also wherever we encounter a kindred spirit, a brother or sister in Christ who treats us like family. As we prepare to celebrate the holiest of weeks and the Sacred Triduum this month, let us give thanks to God for sending His Son to save us, to call us, and to show us the way to His heavenly home. And let us pray for one another as we seek to do His will, rather than our own.
"... on the contrary, in everything we commend ourselves as ministers of God, through much endurance, in afflictions, hardships, constraints, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, vigils, fasts; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, in a holy spirit, in unfeigned love, in truthful speech, in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness at the right and at the left; through glory and dishonor, insult and praise. We are treated as deceivers and yet are truthful; as unrecognized and yet acknowledged; as dying and behold we live; as chastised and yet not put to death; as sorrowful yet always rejoicing; as poor yet enriching many; as having nothing and yet possessing all things."
2 Corinthians 6:4-10