Basically every summer, all Holy Cross priests in the United States who have been ordained for five years or less gather for the Early Years Workshop. It is one of the most highly anticipated weeks of the year for our young Holy Cross priests, especially those who have been assigned to some of our more far-flung apostolates. These days of prayer, faith sharing, and fellowship at our Holy Cross Center in La Porte, IN, offer a wonderful opportunity for our young priests to reconnect with their peers in the community as well as to continue growing in their priestly ministry and identity. The only catch is that none of our young priests refer to the event as the "Early Years Workshop"; they all affectionately refer to it as "Baby Priest Camp."
And so, when we're new to something, that's when we most need renewal; when we're fresh, that's when we most need freshening up. We need that repetition to establish the grooves that we want to remain even when our minds become less flexible; we need that repetition to help us hold onto the ideas we want to retain even when our minds become more closed. And, thank God, when we are new to something, that's when we're most filled with zeal and energy, and so that's probably when we're most willing and able to participate in this necessary repetition. The strange paradox, I think, is that we often are most in need of and are most receptive to renewal precisely when we're still new. Think back to a time when you were first engaged in some new endeavor: playing a new sport, or taking up an instrument, or -- perhaps most fitting for Pentecost -- learning a new language. At the beginning, especially if you were young at the time, you probably were somehow both like a sponge and like a sieve; you picked it up quickly, and you forgot it just as quickly. The intrigue and novelty of a new activity can make our minds especially flexible and open. Now a flexible object can bend easily into a new shape, but that flexible object can snap back just as easily to its original shape. And an open container can easily receive new things, but that open container can just as easily lose those very same things.