Letters from Seminary: Hebert

In Father’s house there are laughs, tears, sleepless nights

Published: January 27, 2018

By Deacon Jeff Hebert
Diocesan Seminarian

Christmas has come and gone as well as the break from studies that it brings. Here in Rome, we are studying for exams, and our minds are preoccupied with our different responsibilities in the community.

For those of us who are deacons, however, our hearts are turning to the springtime and, with it, ordination to the priesthood. It is the reason we study and serve. It is the reason we are here. It is the reason our hearts respond with hopeful anticipation.

Now is also the time that the deacon class from St. Meinrad Seminary makes a pilgrimage to Rome in preparation for ordination. For fellow diocesan seminarian Martín Amaro and me, it means that we get to spend time with these men who will be our fellow priests.

It means we get to spend time with our brothers. I grew up with five brothers sharing one room and five sisters in the room next door. As you might imagine, we told a lot of jokes, we lost a lot of sleep, had a lot of fights and we enjoyed the wild ride of life.

When it comes to my seminarian brothers, we may not share a room, but the rest is very much the same. We are a family, and we aren’t yet a perfect one. It struck me that the same can be said about the Church, with a noticeable difference.

The love that united my 10 siblings had its natural source in our parents. Each of us came from the love that united my mother and father. We all shared a common origin in their home, and thanks be to God, they were always present as a sign of our shared beginning.

The love that unites all Catholics around the world has a divine source in the triune God. Each one of us comes from the love that unites the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We all share a common origin in his grace, and thanks to his Son, that grace is always present in our home, the Church. Christ is as present in the Eucharist as my parents were in the house.

He is still among us. He is always with us as a sign of our shared beginning in him. He is, after all, Emmanuel. Living in a family is not always pretty. Like my siblings and me, yours might have a lot of fights and lose a lot of sleep. Maybe your parents were not the sign of shared love that mine were.

Maybe you aren’t the sign of shared love that you would like to be for your children. My heart breaks for you if that is the case, but, if you are reading this, we happen to know someone who is a specialist in broken hearts. His heart breaks at the sight of our brokenness. You will see him at Mass together with his entire family as a sign of our shared beginning.

Look to him. Tell a few jokes, and stay up late with him. There will be fights within his family too, but don’t forget to enjoy the wild ride to his Father’s house. While you do, know that I can’t wait to come home and join you.

Deacon Jeff Hebert is a seminarian for the Diocese of Little Rock, studying at the North American College in Rome. He is scheduled to be ordained a priest in May 2018.