Wednesday, November 1, 2023
Fr. Matthew Gomez - The Archdiocese of Miami
I think by now everyone has seen “The Little Mermaid.” Whether you are a fan of the animated classic from 1989 or the live action remake from earlier this year, everyone can agree that the music from this beloved Disney princess movie is awesome.
We can all admit to tapping our feet as Sebastian sings “Under the Sea” with all of his sea-creature friends, or getting some chills down our spine as we hear the sea-witch sing “Poor Unfortunate Souls.” But a heartfelt song sung by the protagonist, Ariel (the Little Mermaid), is at the forefront of my reflection.
If you have been living under a rock, or under the sea, and have never seen this classic Disney film, allow me to give you a brief synopsis: Ariel is fascinated with human beings, but King Triton forbids Ariel (his daughter) to go up to the shore to see the humans. After a terrible shipwreck, Ariel saves Prince Eric (a human) and as occurs in many fairytales, it’s love at first sight. There is a problem though: Ariel is a mermaid and Eric is a human. After a daughter-father disagreement, Ariel finds herself in a conversation with her aunt, the sea-witch Ursula. They make a deal whereby Ariel receives legs in exchange for her voice. In three days, a voice-less Ariel must make the prince fall in love with her; if not, Ariel belongs to Ursula forever.
How will the story end? Watch and see.
Amid Ariel’s desire to be with the humans, she sings a song about the many human items that she has collected. These things, her treasures, give her a great desire to be “Part of that World.” This song resonated with me while I was in seminary formation, and I am sure it resonates with the men who are in formation now.
Obviously, there are many differences between Ariel and seminarians, but there is one big similarity: The desire to be “Part of that World.”
When God calls a man to give his life for service in the Church, it is not for our own sake. Usually that call comes from a community, and the desire is to return to that community to give of ourselves. Of course, seminary is necessary to discern the call and foster that seed, to be able to give ourselves for the parish community we will one day serve.
In August, when the seminarians return to the seminary, some of them stay at their summer parish assignment. This same feeling of wanting to serve a community quadruples when the seminarians return to the seminary after their Pastoral Year.
This desire to be in the parish drives the seminarians to give of themselves. Every chance they get to be with the people, to practice their pastoral work, increases that desire. On the day the archbishop calls them forth – the day of their ordination – they will indeed be what they desire. They will be “Part of that World.”
Father Matthew Gomez is director of vocations for the Archdiocese of Miami and also a contributor to the archdiocese’s Let’s Talk blog.