I’d like to think I always followed the advice of my seminary formators. But there is some advice that one consciously cultivates.

My primary formator told me once I should smile more. I wasn’t especially unhappy, but it seems I looked it. Smiling, he said, would not only remedy that, but go a long way in the priestly ministry.

So smile more I did. And do. Parishioners occasionally comment that it’s nice to see me smiling so much.

After viewing this video, I’ll redouble my efforts. I tuned in on the following recommendation:

For about a year now, inspired by this particular presentation, I have been smiling up a storm, initiating smiles with others before and after Mass, with strangers as I walk down the street, with other parents at sporting events, at Jesus in the tabernacle or during adoration, with family members, when I hear something interesting on the radio, or even at characters who smile on televisions shows. I am smiling right now.

I have experienced that sharing a smile with anyone, especially a stranger, has a wonderful effect of filtering away superficial characteristics. When I receive a reciprocal smile from another person, he or she ceases to be old or young, rich or poor, well or poorly dressed, this race or that, heavy or thin, and handsome or pretty. Each becomes simply another human being sharing a pure goodness.

My own experience confirms that. It seems my formator isn’t just an expert in Ancient Hebrew and the Old Testament. (Alone no mean feat.) He also has a lot of science on his side!

  • Stephen K

    What on earth is a “formator”? (Is it related to a Jurassic Park “velociraptor”? ) Where do they dredge such titles from? In my seminary days, there was no such thing.

    But perhaps I’m revealing my generation: thrown into the deep end with a “you’ll learn!” Actually, if you mean “influences”, than that’s another thing: like the Redemptorist who thundered – when I was a 9 year old boy – “the Anti-Christ would tell you ‘do not pray!'” or the de La Salle Brothers who taught (and strapped) me!

    Really, there were many influences, too many to count, and they included just about everybody who showed me something different – pretty girls, wise but ordinary old uncles and aunts, chance encounters with street people, and so on.

    But none of them told me I didn’t smile enough or bore such a spooky title!

    • Ha ha. It’s a rare occurrence indeed, but occasionally Stephen, you do sound cantankerous. I say that with every affection!

      Ironically, the first formator I ever had shared your dislike for the title. He campaigned, successfully, to have his title changed from “First Year Formator” to “First Year Co-ordinator.”

      I’ve always imagined “formators” were an American import, and that the title is long-established in US seminaries. Maybe I’m wrong though. Perhaps it’s a modern thing.

      In any event, I would add that there’s not a credentialled formator in all the seminaries in the world who can rival a pretty girl on some of life’s most important lessons – love and smiling not least among them! 😉

  • Kevin

    Good point , I’ll take the old timers formation ideas on board, I’m at the market at the moment and am putting it into practice. It’s working swimmingly 🙂

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