The first thing to pierce my consciousness is the shrill tone of my alarm clock interrupting the precious moments of much-needed sleep. I roll over and peer with one eye at the little device that abruptly transported me back to the dark, quiet, and cold reality of the world beyond the warmth of my bed. As my eyes focus, the clock reads 5:00 AM and I slowly awaken, my body beginning its accustomed morning routine: roll out of bed, grasp at remembering what day it is, and press the all-important switch of the coffee maker – marking my official start of a day in the life of a seminarian.
Twenty minutes later and I emerge from the confines of my 15×15 foot room a bit more refined, having showered, dressed, and undergone sufficient caffeination. As I leave the warm abode behind, I begin to acknowledge what the day will entail: several classes, a few reading assignments, some research for an upcoming paper, and maybe – just maybe – a respite during the day’s schedule for the ever-elusive nap. But then questions begin to fill my head, “why am I up this early? – is this what the rest of my life will be like? – are you really cut out for seminary? – really, what is the point of all this…?”
Just as quickly as these questions begin to fester, their tenor begins to fade as I approach a portrait of Mary, Our Lady, the Mother of God. Within her loving gaze, the dull senseless monotony of the morning begins to slip away, replaced with a palpable purpose for not only my day but my life. It is in her eyes that I remember her encouraging words from Cana, “Do whatever He tells you,” as Our Lady ushers me along the last leg of what I cordially refer to as my “morning commute.”
With a newfound semblance of hope, I pass through the doors of St. Bernard’s Chapel, where that hope is transfigured into resplendent recognition of Our Lord present in the Eucharist in front of me. As my eyes adjust to dim surroundings they are drawn to the brightness of the altar, where the monstrance containing the greatest gift ever given to mankind resides. As I kneel and look around, the fraternity of the early morning adorers comes into focus with their gazes transfixed on Christ on the altar. So marks the beginning of my daily Holy Hour.
In this hour with our Lord, I experience God’s greatest gift, His only Son Jesus Christ, as being present before me as part of an indescribable reality beyond compare. At that moment, I do not feel alone, but instead united with Christ in the Eucharist, and through Christ, the fraternity of men praying in that chapel. It is here that my vocation is affirmed in the words, “I will serve,” the same words I uttered over three years ago when I answered the Lord’s call to the Priesthood. In this chapel, my brothers and I witness the dawning of a new day in God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, the light of everlasting Life. God gives this gift of his Son – of Himself – to all who ask.
So the question is: How do you start your day?
Tre is in 2nd Theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg. Tre’s home parish is St. Joseph’s in Cockeysville. Please pray for Tre!