General Ordination Exams

Time is running short. The storm is coming, the thunder rumbling in the distant dark skies. After postulancy and candidacy interviews, psych evals, medical evals, discernment parish months, selling everything and moving to seminary, field ed evaluations, CPE summer, middler evaluations, and years, YEARS of our lives devoted to The Process, it comes to this –

General Ordination Exams


Because they haven’t made us crazy enough already? Because people before us did them? Because they don’t trust that the seminaries are teaching us anything? Who the heck knows.

Regardless of the reason, next week it’s time. Seven canonical areas. 20+ hours of time to use to write about them.

The pastoral care olympics. Sunday night dinner at the theology prof’s house. Breakfast and lunch provided by juniors and middlers each day. Morning prayer. Prayer cards. Prayer partners. Quiet hours. Chair massages. Spouses tiptoeing around the house, literally and figuratively on egg shells. My spouse hoping that somebody, anybody (me?) will be this nice when the bar exam comes up this summer.

Not that I’m not grateful to the competitors in the pastoral care olympics. I’m just not thrilled about the reason for them.

And finally, with (we can wish and pray) few meltdowns, whether computer or human, the end, the chimes ringing in celebration, dinner and eucharist at the dean’s house, and the reward of warmer latitudes for some (me!)

It will come, I hope, I pray, I know.

Tonight – sorting materials, putting things in categories, rearranging the desk, and wondering if it will all be enough as I go through the bits and pieces of two and a half years in the academic life of this place. What do I know? What will I remember? WIll I have what I need? Who knows.

And, as I tend to do with everything, wondering about the meaning of it all. And having trouble seeing it. Chafing at the whole thing. Tired of exams, of essays, of vicious cycles of stress that feeds off the stress of others. Tell me again, why must we do this? What will these so called examining chaplains really be able to say about my future as a priest? About as much now as they’ll know after they read my version of the answers to this year’s questions about the “seven canonical areas” – I’d bet the island of Manhattan on that.


~ by Sophia on December 30, 2008.

5 Responses to “General Ordination Exams”

  1. Good luck, good luck. You will be in my prayers along with all your classmates.Experience tells me that you will remember more than you think, that your notes will hold you up, and that there will be one question that will throw your for a loop–my year it was the infamous history question on premillennial dispensationalism. But you WILL get through this, and come out on the other side.As for the reasons for all this? We can make ourselves nuts stewing about that…but don’t. Just concentrate on getting through it.

  2. I have to confess, I really don’t “get” this part of the US process. I envy the thoroughness of your theological training hugely – but at the same time I think that maybe the C of E is onto something in its efforts to open the priesthood to those who could never have passed an academic exam in their lives. I don’t believe that only those with higher degrees or equivalent can be effective priests…which is a staggeringly unhelpful comment as you hover on the verge of your GOEs…so I’ll end by sending hugs and prayers for minimal stress and a positive outcome for all concerned.Oh..and the word verification this time “Bleari”…the shape of eyes to come!

  3. I have an evil plan (as a committed & involved layperson) to eventually work to end the GOE's. That doesn't help you any, either. But in the meantime, I'm praying for you.

  4. I’m okay, just feeling a little wimpy and snarky when I wrote this post. I know it will be okay and then it will be over. 🙂

  5. I’m preaching at our evening GOE Eucharist on Thursday night. Mark 6: 34-46. It’s my own attempt to answer the same questions…it will be on the blog as per usual. I’ll be curious to hear if it works for you, if you’ve got the energy to look at it. Blessings, friend. We will get through this, as we’ve gotten through so many other parts of this journey.And in some strange, unknowable way, it may turn out to be useful.

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