It’s Getting Real: My Admission to Candidacy for Holy Orders – 3 – What it Means To Be a Candidate for Holy Orders Now.
Oh, it got real, alright.
Yesterday morning my Bishop admitted me to be a Candidate for Holy Orders through the Rite of Candidacy. See my previous two articles in this mini article-series for more information about Candidacy and its significance along the journey to priesthood: here and here.
In this last installment I will share some my brief reflections on what it means for me personally now that I am officially a Candidate for Holy Orders.
- I was looking forward to this ever since my vocation director informed me I was going to receive it back during the second semester of my first year of Pre-Theology in the spring of last year when he visited my seminary for formation meetings. It came as a pleasant surprise then, and I remember that day looking up things about Candidacy right after our meeting. I was excited because this was something that in the past was reserved for later in theology, but now it was being brought to right before entrance into theological studies. Now I only had to do one more year of philosophy before becoming a Candidate. I was also excited because during this time I was wishing that there were some sort of formal milestone/goal to look forward to that was closer to my current place in the journey. I felt this way because six years seemed like light years away to become a priest, five years was still long to become a deacon, four years was closer but still long before being installed an acolyte, and even installed lector seemed far away because I had to finish philosophy and then wait until the second half of First Theology. Other guys in the seminary can speak to this as well, but when you are first starting off both the milestones mentioned above and the end goal of priesthood in general can seem so far away at times. Plus, priests and guys further down the line to priesthood telling you that the years really do fly by doesn’t help emotionally all the time (they say often “the months are long but the years are short” – if I have the saying right). But I realized that this “chomping at the bit” was a sign of a desire for priesthood and service to the Church, and at least it was there. It’s when it stops being there that there is a problem. Two years in now it gets better as you get closer, and it matures in a way, but you still have it! Plus, the college guys have 8 years while I only have 6! Now I am done to 4. Anyway, when I was told that Candidacy was now before I enter theology that provided the closer goal to set and prepare for that I desired and needed. The yearly milestones of receiving the pre-deaconate ministries along with Candidacy really help to break up the lengthy 6 years once you get to theology and provide something close to strive for during the next 4 as priesthood takes its time to come. Now I had gotten the chance to receive and “become” something for the Church I love soon. Not to mention the second great benefit Father mentioned to me, which is . . .
- I get to wear clerics now and it’s so sweet! I can wake up and put on my cassock and collar in the morning and go out to do church business, which is something my vocation director said was cool for him too. I can go to and from church business in clerics instead of putting them on before I serve Mass and having to take them off after. Now I can be in this way a visible symbol of God, the things of God, and the Church in the world. I will be able to fully take on this role after ordination, but now I get to play a smaller part in it. Even before I became Catholic I have always thought clerics were so cool, and I’ve always wanted to wear them. And whenever I altar served I never really wanted to take off my cassock. At the same time, both before and after entering seminary, I have always critically made sure to myself that the desire I had was not just to play dress up or be overly attached to clerics. There was always something more I wanted to be. I wanted and still want to become a living symbol of God in the world. I want people, every single person, to think about God, where they will end up when they die, and the love the one God who exists must have for them, as Christians tell them. These are the most important things in this world. Clerics are not the only things that help make this happen, but they are one of the best tools to help testify to these truths. I have always desired to be this symbol for God and the Church. It also helps in identifying with what you’re hoping to become. This was a small thing to be excited for, but it was a neat treat to look forward to.
- By becoming a Candidate I have now been placed formally on the path to ordination. This was done through an official rite of the Church. The Church gave me an official blessing through my Bishop during the rite in becoming a Candidate. And becoming a candidate is recognized in canon law as the one of the first formal steps towards ordination in the Roman Rite as shown in my first post.
- I feel more united in a small way to the clergy even though I am not one yet.
- I can think of myself more confidently as being called/bound for the priesthood by God until He says stop. I can have more of a moral certainty that He is calling me. I can see myself as a future priest without as much hesitation or reserve as I had earlier in my journey because now I see even more sharply how it’s really all up to God. If He never wanted me to reach this formal point along the path, He would have stopped me. If He wants me to get off this train later, then He will tell me. Until then I can only go forward until He says stop. I trust that He will lead me to what He wants me to become for His glory and the salvation of souls, and receiving Candidacy I trust God even more. I have more confidence in the reality of the call. I can say more confidently “when I am ordained” or “I would be ordained by then” and other such language while still avoiding presumption, of course. Like my vocation director told me two weeks ago, I can now walk with a sort of inward priestly “swagger” that is part of preparing for priesthood.
- It really does feel good to take this next step. I was peaceful and so ready leading up to it.
- Now I must take completing my seminarian duties with even more dedication than before. I have to become even more dedicated to praying the Divine Office everyday even though I am still not required to do so by the Church. It is really only “right and just” that I become more intentional and focused on doing the priestly things that I can do in my current state in life.
- There is no doubt I received special graces for the particular task of being a Candidate during yesterday’s rite. I look forward to seeing all the ways the grace that I received will manifest itself in my spiritual life as a seminarian, a man preparing to be a priest of Jesus Christ forever.
And with that my articles on my admission to candidacy are complete! Thank you for following along this important leg of the journey. I invite you to continue to accompany me through your prayers!
The previous two articles in this mini article-series:
Cover photo from the Diocese of Nashville (I’m in the center next to the Bishop)