Letters from Seminary: Hebert

Moments of sin and salvation on journey toward heaven

Published: April 21, 2018

By Deacon Jeff Hebert
Diocesan Seminarian

Here I am. With about a month left before I am ordained, I am writing my final letter from seminary. My previous letter came just after Christmas. This one comes just after Easter. God willing, I’ll be ordained just after Pentecost. My first Mass will be on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity.

It strikes me that the last few months of my seminary journey are passing through the first principle mysteries of the Christian one. Together along the way, we pass through these mysteries every year, the Lord is with us every step of the way, and everyone has a few stories to tell.

God’s people have always been united by wonders of God’s salvation. God spoke to Abraham and promised him a new home in a distant land and a son of blessing. He settled Abraham in Canaan and gave him his son Isaac. God delivered on his promises and gave circumcision as a sign.

God spoke to Moses and promised the Hebrews freedom from Pharaoh and a nation of its own. He led them out through the waters and led them to Canaan. God delivered on his promises and gave the Passover as a sign. When Israel reflected on whom their God was, these were the moments of salvation toward which they turned.

Finally, God spoke so deeply and universally to humanity that his speech, his word became incarnate and they called him Jesus, the Emmanuel. He promised us a cross and death, but he also promised that we will rise with him with divine life. He promised us trouble in the world, but he also promised that he has conquered the world.

He promised that he would have to leave for a time, but he also promised that we have his Father in heaven and his Spirit to be sent. He died on a cross and left us. On the third day, he rose with the power of divine life to return and conquer the world. “What God promised our ancestors he has brought to fulfillment for us, their children, by raising up Jesus.” (Acts 13:32-33)

Then he drew us into that power over the world through the gift of the Holy Spirit. In Christ, God has delivered on every single one of his promises to humanity, and he gave us the Eucharist as the ultimate sign, the food of fulfillment for our journey. Through the Eucharist, we turn toward the salvation Christ has won for us, and God reveals to his people who he is.

When I look back over my life, I see little personal versions of these divine promises, fulfillments and signs sprinkled throughout. There have been new homes and blessings. There have been the pharaohs of sin and the waters of conversion. I have heard the Lord speak to my heart. I have died on crosses of my own making and those made by the world.

All along the way, the Lord raised me up with the power of his grace, and he has fed me with his very self. In prayer, I turn toward these moments and wonder at God’s mercy. My life is a story of salvation and mercy.

Every life can be that kind of story. So here I am, at your service, ready to turn the world toward Christ’s story of salvation, year after year, as an ordained minister of his priesthood. See you soon.

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 on May 26, 2018. For his first assignment he will be an associate pastor at St. Joseph Church in Conway.