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By Jorel De Guzman

The Love I First Had

April 24, 2023 | Every time I open my Bible to the Book of Revelation, the second chapter boasts a passage I have come to realize is a vital aspect of seminary life.

In the midst of His exhortations and rebukes of the seven Churches, Christ says to the Ephesians, "But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first" (Revelation 2:4). It can be quite easy to "abandon my first love," namely, to lose sight of the initial call to the priesthood I perceived nearly three years ago.

Alongside a full-time student class load and community life, it can be an easy tendency to just go with the flow of a normal college school year.

This struggle almost seems to disappear immediately when I realize that I am a diocesan seminarian precisely because of the very diocese the Lord has called me to serve. My formation advisor last year poignantly pointed out that the fruit of a diocesan seminarian's vocation is that God has called him, out of over 2000 dioceses in the world, to serve one particular Diocese.

I did not perceive the call in a different state or some city in Europe, but precisely in the diocese that I was born and raised. I am called to serve, in particular, the people of the Diocese of St. Petersburg. They are the ones who prayed, whether they realized it or not, that I may have the courage to accept the Lord's calling to serve them.

This realization never struck more me than while serving at the ordination for Fathers Don Amodeo and Zach Brasseur. Looking at the congregation every now and then, I was looking at the very people that God has called me to serve. The very people whose prayers were answered, somehow, some way, by my yes to the Lord's will.

In the times that I tend toward the same pitfall of the Ephesians, I think to the Ordination liturgy.

That truly, as the author of Hebrews says, I am "surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1)." Namely, surrounded and truly empowered by the prayers of all those in this Diocese. And as with my vocation, let us learn to do the same with our relationship with Christ. When it may seem like we may have "lost our first love," let us ask for the grace to strive to remind ourselves of Christ's call in our own lives.

Jorel de Guzman attends St. Joseph Seminary College. He grew up in Tampa and is a graduate of Mother Teresa Catholic School and Jesuit Catholic High School. His home parish is Mary Help of Christians.