Transitions are messy.
Let’s face it, transitions are messy.
Someone told me that in college, and my life experience before and after has confirmed the truth of this remark. They can be physically messy, as in when one must physically move items from one place to another. They can be emotionally messy, because people – even those who characterize themselves as “progressive” or “change-agents” – actually are quite averse to change of any kind – whether for the good or not. Transitions force us to examine our lives, to look back on memories – some of which may fill us with joy, others which may require healing. They also present us with a future, yet one about which more is unknown than known.
After six years at St. Charles Seminary – and four and a half as the editor of this blog – I am transitioning to something new. It is, of course, a happy transition, as it means that I am preparing to be ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and assigned to one of our parishes as a parochial vicar. Nevertheless, it is always difficult to say goodbye to the familiar routine, to friendly confines, and to people you know – even when they drive you crazy from time to time!
The Apostles must have had a similar experience. The real beginning of their own ministry took place not with a grand Cathedral Mass and party with family and friends, but in the Upper Room, where the Risen Lord had said “Peace be with you,” and where his Holy Spirit descended upon them in the form of tongues of fire. At some point, they began to disperse – how else could they have fulfilled Jesus’ command to “teach all nations”? There came a point – and the early martyrdom of James is the latest this could have taken place – at which all twelve would never be in the same room again.
And yet, were they not always in the Upper Room? Didn’t their intense, three-year formation at the feet of the Master unite them in a bond which transcended physical time and place? Didn’t their fortitude in the face of opposition derive from that experience they had together at the Last Supper? Wasn’t the eloquence of their words a result not merely of their own learning, but of their encounter with the Word-made-flesh?
Because of those experiences, those twelve men – and others who joined them and others who eventually succeeded them – transformed a world and an empire. And while what used to be called “Christendom” is facing its own transition point – one 500 years in the making, in my opinion – the barque of Peter, which Christ built on with the planks of their lives can never fall into ruin, despite the significant challenges she faces internally and externally.
Hopefully, we’ve been able to express some of our own experience of the moment, this moment in history and this moment in our own lives as seminarians in formation. We’ve covered the visit of Pope Francis to our beloved city and seminary and major events in the Church and in our country. We’ve commented on sports and politics, culture and Scripture. We’ve profiled fine people – including our own seminarian brothers – who, in one way or another, participate in Christ’s mission.
Thankfully, all of that will continue. David Buffum – soon to be Deacon Buffum – has agreed to take my place as editor, and Matthew Kuna will take on the newly re-created role of assistant editor. Both are frequent contributors to this blog and will lead it well. For those who are curious, I will begin writing regularly – probably once per month – for CatholicPhilly.com. It will be a joy to write for that great website, the worthy heir of the Catholic Standard and Times.
It has been an honor to be at the helm of this publication for these years. I am grateful to all of my collaborators on this project, and all who wrote, edited, advised on, read, critiqued, inspired, and enjoyed the articles I was lucky enough to publish – and the few I authored myself. And if this transition has made me a bit more grateful for the journey we’ve been on together – and the pilgrimage which will continue – well, then it’s worth the mess.