Mr. Trossbach entered formation at St. John Paul II Seminary as a freshman, and he will graduate this spring. As his college years come to an end, he reflects on his seminary experience.
“There is an appointed time for everything…” – Ecclesiastes 3:1
Kayaks and philosophy papers, sports tournaments and adoration, adventures and resting at home: all this is “life abundant” (cf. Jn 10:10). “Who gets to live like this?” Fr. Seith would say when we began our retreats. As a graduating man looking back on the four most formative and full years of my life, the only possible response is incredible gratitude and wonder. I entered seminary straight from high school and rejected offers to play college football, and a lot of people — motivated by love — expressed their concerns that I was going to “miss out on my youth,” that I was missing the “college experience,” and that seminary would be waiting for me after college. What I have found over these years is that in “giving my youth to the Lord,” He has given my youth to me. The friendships I’ve made, the adventures I’ve been on, the trials I’ve overcome, the love I’ve come to know in God, and the man that I’ve become over this time—they all show how much God, as a tender Father, was directing every moment and was with me in all of it. In seminary, Calvary and Easter happen continuously. Every day we die and rise with Christ to the fullness of his life. The time we have given to God has not been wasted, but is instead full of everything, full of Him.
“You have kept the good wine until now.” – John 2:10
We have counted down the days to the end, and each day closer to the finish has been sweeter than the last. Things once taken for granted reawaken as sources of awe, and things that once seemed to be a burden are, all of sudden, sources of joy. Each brother, each class, each person, each bird singing its Easter song, each psalm in the Liturgy of the Hours, each Mass celebrated as a community speaks a deeper mystery and leaves its transfiguring imprint on my heart. As I prepare to leave the good and secure base of the seminary, the wine of everyday life becomes more concentrated: the graces themselves are deeper, and my sense for those graces, my ability to receive God’s grace in freedom, is heightened. The taste is wonderfully bittersweet — it is very good (cf. Gen. 1:31).
“He summoned the Twelve and began to send them out…” – Mark 6:7
And here we are. Putting down our ties, worn to class day after day, in exchange for our fresh-from-the-box Roman collars, we twelve graduating men have mixed feelings. Looking in the mirror, our familiar faces accented by all-black clerics, we feel fear, excitement, joy, and an I-don’t-know-what… but here we are. To leave is never easy, especially when what you leave is so good. But we aren’t simply leaving; we’re being sent: some to places and things unknown, and others to places and things familiar yet new. Either way, we are being sent by Christ, who has given more than we ever expected and more than we are fully aware of. And so we stand tall in our all-black because we know He has been with us here, and he will continue to be with us as we go out. We know, because he has promised, that He will send the Holy Spirit with us. He will be in the tabernacles of our future seminaries, where we will rest on His eucharistic Heart: “and behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). When darkness comes, we will have nothing to fear. As Christ walked with His Father on earth, so we will walk out of the doors of the seminary that has been so good to us. He is sending us on to the next adventure: “the One who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone…” (John 8:29).
Mr. Trossbach is a College IV Seminarian for the Archdiocese of Washington.