Meet the Seminarians
Rev. Mr. Jean Joseph Brice
From what I have experienced so far as a seminarian, it seems as if the unknown longing I had before I entered the seminary would not have been satiated had I not responded to what God was calling me to do. I doubt there is anything in this life capable of making us so content other than embracing our vocation. He, the perfect, the Almighty, knows what suits us best; He knows what we should be doing in order to be happy. Discerning a vocation, whatever it may be, is discerning happiness. Not embracing it is rejecting unending joy and confidence with which God fills us in the midst of the storms of life. Embracing it puts us in perfect harmony with God and provides tranquility. Before we were formed in the womb, God knows us; before we were born, he dedicates us (cf. Jer. 1). That naturally leads to happiness, the most sought grace.
The first part of my formation is now complete. Embarking on the second half of the journey, it is time to evaluate where I stand in the pilgrimage. On the very first day I moved to St. John’s Seminary, I learned a twofold life’s lesson that encapsulates the very purpose of life. First, we are created to give glory to God, and secondly we are created to rejoice in eternal bliss at the end of life. Being called to be a priest is not only the perfect opportunity to give glory to God in the highest form possible—celebrating Mass, it is the most convenient way to save thousands of souls while striving to save mine. How fortunate I am that I am being formed to do this! That is what wakes me up everyday. That’s what spurs me on to strive be the best seminarian I can potentially be. This is where I currently stand in the race. My most important goal in the seminary is to develop the virtues necessary to be a holy priest. This world is in dire need of holy and courageous men who are not afraid of embracing the call to holiness. My priority for the next four years is to strive for holiness.
My being in the seminary is no accident. By the time I was a junior in High School, I was well too accustomed with the phrase: “Are you thinking about being a priest?” It is true that if you are thinking about being a priest, you are probably called to be a priest. After graduating High School, everyone was taken aback when I did not enter the seminary. I studied computer programming. From that point, I did not picture myself being where I am today. In the hindsight, however, it is clear that God had his plan. After all, God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are our ways His ways (Is 55, 8). Though a college student, I unknowingly made choices that led me to Him—serving as a lector and the head of the altar servers at my parish.
I entered the seminary because I was seeking for something. Jesus said, “Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Luke 11, 9). What did I ask for? Peace. What was I seeking? Christ’s friendship. How long did I knock? As long as I was not at peace and until I did find peace. God is the pioneer and perfecter of life. It makes sense to ask him what we are to do in life. When we sincerely beg him, he certainly leads us to where we belong. “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Him” says great St. Augustine. God wants to put an end to our longings, and there is nothing he will not do to make us happy. The Lord searches us for the very purpose of making us happy. Why should we be afraid of letting Him find us?