I Will Give You Rest

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

-Matthew 11:28-30

Anyone who has studied as a seminarian can tell you that there is a lot that has to be done in his daily schedule- myself included. Often our schedule starts before six in the morning, and can often end almost sixteen hours later. The beginning of the day is merely a faint memory by the end of the day, simply because there are so many different directions to travel and things to accomplish every day. By the time Night Prayer ceases its procession forth from our mouths, each one of us is very exhausted. Even in our exhaustion, though, there is still more meaning to Matthew 11:28 than simple earthy rest.

In fact, the rest that we are invited to in this Gospel passage has a couple additional potential types besides this. It invites us, first of all, to the security of reliance upon Christ, and this is a rest in a certain respect. We cannot rule ourselves, no matter our effort, or how much power, strength, or intelligence we have. We cannot bring ourselves to rest by our own rule. What our own rulership can look like in our daily lives is getting to the highest positions that we can, gaining the most money we can, or simply making ourselves as important or as busy as possible. These things seldom bring us to lasting rest and peace- and to the contrary can often bring us to unrest and dissatisfaction. These things cannot innately satisfy- because we logically cannot corner any of these things- and this means that we will likely be led to frustration. What Christ invites us to here, then, is the ability to simply place Him as our ruler. This means that He is the one to take care of our needs- if we follow His leadership. This enables us to gain rest from the security that only Christ, as our ruler, can provide.

The last rest that we are ultimately led to, as indicated by this passage, is Eternal Life. This is by extension of the rest that we are given in our earthly life. This can only be made possible if we have relinquished rulership to Christ, and not to ourselves. We are led to our final goal and final rest- because we are able to find what our hearts truly desire. Whether we are at the seminary, at work, at home, at Church, or even sleeping- we are ultimately seeking that rest- the rest that only God can provide. That is a rest that is physical, secure, and eternal. It is one and the same with the rest St. Augustine identifies in the first book of The Confessions: “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

Even though our work as seminarians keeps us busy, we certainly strive to live in this rest as much as possible, even though we work long hours and have many things to do. We take upon ourselves the yoke of study for now, but ultimately, it is done, as God wills, through a man’s taking of Christ’s yoke upon him. This is even physically symbolized at the celebration of each and every Mass through the priest vesting in the chasuble- the outer vestment that is in the shape of a yoke. In his celebration of the Mass, he takes upon himself the very same yoke of Christ and His work. It is only in this same work that seminarians too, busy as we are, will find rest- and will be able to help countless others find that very same rest- now, and in eternity.

 

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On Summer Assignment: Spanish Studies

An Afternoon Soccer Game during my Immersion Weekend

For the duration of the months of June and July this summer, I am in Pittsburg, Kansas studying Spanish, by attending Spanish Summer courses, attending Spanish liturgies, and recently, taking part in a Spanish Immersion weekend. This summer assignment, though it can be difficult, is something that I know is heavily needed for future ministry in my home diocese. Within the diocese, we have many Hispanic immigrants, and a majority of them are Catholic. This is both a difficulty and a privilege for the clergy and those of us aspiring to be a part of the clergy in the future, because it creates, not only a larger group that needs ministry, but a group that needs ministry in a new language, at least for most seminarians, including myself. This means that, since my curriculum is very busy during the school year, it is advantageous for me to take time during the summer to learn both language and culture in an environment that puts me in the midst of those who will need me to have a good foundation in Spanish to tend to their sacramental and spiritual needs in the future.

During my Immersion weekend, it impacted me in a profound way just how important it is that I work diligently in learning and practicing Spanish into the future. In my immersion weekend, I was placed with a Hispanic family in Carthage, Missouri, which spoke almost exclusively Spanish. I don’t have a very large vocabulary in Spanish just yet, so it became a struggle to communicate at times. However, even in the midst of this confusion, there were three things that particularly struck me.

First, these people are very diligent about their faith. In each home I visited, there was some sort of devotional altar which was prominently displayed in the entry of each home. Some are ornate, and some are a bit more simple- but each one was special to that family. Many practice prayer at multiple points throughout the day, and are most certainly regular participants at Mass.

St. Ann’s Parish in Carthage Missouri

Second, life is difficult for them in the U.S., but it is more difficult for them where they came from. Even though many Hispanics find themselves in a place where they have to point at photos to order at McDonalds, because no one else understands them, they still feel that they are in a much more privileged place than where they were before. They have more than what they had, and even in the midst of a culture and language that may not understand their own very well, they are very happy and overjoyed to be here.

Finally, they are excited that their future priests are working hard to learn the Spanish language. Even though I felt the family I stayed with for a weekend had every right to be frustrated with my finite amount of Spanish education, they were not frustrated, and were actually excited that I was there, both trying to piece together what I could in the Spanish language and also learning about their culture.

This summer is a little over halfway over, and I feel that I have learned a tremendous amount- both in what I will need to focus on in the future, and in the tools that I will need to have to be a Father to all of God’s children. To that end, my studies continue!