by Father Scott Wallisch
Over the last few years, there has been an abundance of superhero movies.
Judge me if you will, but I enjoy watching some of them. In many cases, the plot centers on some threat to all of humanity. The superheroes must overcome the threat and save humankind. These are fictional movies, and the threats in their plots are thankfully not real.
We know as Christians, though, that there is a real threat to humanity that is not fictional. Sin and evil threaten us with eternal separation from God. There is a real superhero, though, who has really saved us. Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, took on our humanity in a rescue mission and became our savior.
Jesus, and only Jesus, has saved the world. Like any good superhero, though, he seeks to empower others to help him share the salvation he won. All Christians receive this empowerment but, in a special way, priests, as they administer the sacraments, stand “in persona Christi.” They stand in the place of the Superhero.
Living in imitation of the real Superhero, I think priests are also similar to two comic- book superheroes. First, they are like Spiderman. Their hands are capable — like Peter Parker’s —only, instead of webs, it is God’s graces that flow from their hands.
More importantly, priests do not have their powers from birth but receive them from an external source. Rather than being empowered by a spider bite, the Holy Spirit is specially conferred at their ordination.
Second, priests are like Batman. Yes, they both wear black. And yes, they both have cool gadgets. Batman has the Batmobile and his grappling gun, while priests have humeral veils, aspergilla and thuribles.
More importantly, though, priests — like Bruce Wayne — need to be trained rigorously in order to do what they do. Seminary is like the League of Shadows (only with all good intentions and directed only to God’s will), where young men called to be priests are formed academically, spiritually, humanly and pastorally. It can be very intense, but it is necessary and very worth it.
Spiderman’s motto, which he gets from his uncle, is: “With great power comes great responsibility.” I think this is true of seminarians and priests.
The priesthood is a great gift, but it brings great responsibility. I ask you, therefore, to please keep in your prayers all of our seminarians and the young men who are considering the seminary.
As they each prepare to be an “alter Christus,” or shall we say an alter superhero, may they engage their formation well, and may they selflessly serve the people of God with the power that comes from the Superhero who really has saved all humanity.