Mike, one of our archdiocese's finest at the St Paul Seminary, group blogging at Future Priests of the Third Millenium, was at the funeral of Sergeant James Wosika, who was killed in Iraq.
One of the more sobering aspects of being a seminarian is that occasionally I have been called on to serve the funeral Mass of soldier killed in Iraq. Today was one of those days for Staff Sergeant James Wosika, only 24 years old. When the Archbishop cited his age, in his beautiful homily, it stung my ears, as it did not escape me that he and I had probably graduated High School in the same year. Here was a man who was called upon to sacrifice his life for a cause much greater than himself, bringing peace to a troubled nation. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends” ~John 15:12.
We in seminary are not so different than this young man, watching the ritual of the military, their precision, and their commitment gave me pause to reflect on this aspect. In a very real way he trained and then went into battle, yet we too are training for a battle in seminary. Though his was a very real battle, ours too is an equally real yet still a spiritual battle. Through both our regimens of training we need to learn teamwork, self sacrifice, and other noble virtues. And we both are called to lay down our lives. Today he became an icon of the battle I find myself in, a battle that I do not necessarily always see, and an icon of sacrifice. Next time I chafe at arising at 5:20 in the morning, attending countless committee meetings or conferences, or any of the number of things which I would rather not be doing, I pray that I might remember the sacrifice men and women are making in Iraq and remember that I too am training for a very real battle as well, a battle in which I am already on the front lines, a battle for souls.
Archbishop Flynn ended his homily “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” ~Matthew 5:9, as James was a peacemaker in a far off land, I hope that all of us seminarians may become peacemakers in the troubled depths of those souls we are called to meet on the journey He has called us.
May he rest in peace.