The evening for our matriculation arrived abruptly. I’m not sure that I understood the full gravity of the event until the morning before. That morning, our Introduction to the Old Testament class went on a field trip to Keller Library. And there it was, The Book. There is something sobering about seeing a book that is almost two hundred years old, waiting for our signatures on the night of Matriculation. During orientation, one of the faculty said the book is our version of the “sorting hat.” I felt as nervous as Hermione, muttering to herself as the hat is placed on her head.
And the festival evensong adds to the serious air. We walk up, in turn, to sign the book to the hymn, St. Patrick’s Breastplate. “I bind unto myself today…” The words, the music, and the book all swirl together. I am here, this is real. I’m affirming my vow to “solemnly promise with reliance on divine grace, loyalty to observe the Statutes and Rules of the Seminary; and furthermore, to set ourselves to cultivate the moral and religious character which befits candidates of Sacred Ministry.” This is the culmination of years of discernment, interviews, psychological exams, applications, and financial aid paperwork. All those worries and concerns fade away as I sign my name. I am here. This is real.
This is the true beginning of my journey here at General, and with divine grace I will be successful, so that I can carry out this sacred ministry to which I have been called. With my signature, I bind unto myself today the future of my walk in faith.