Seminary and Top Gun: Maverick

September 22, 2022
Archdiocese of Baltimore
pascal atunzu

During this summer, I was able to see the newly released Top Gun Maverick, a sequel 36 years in the making. It was a joy to see actors return from the original like Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer and new actors like Miles Teller and Glen Powell. The movie was a favorite this summer: upon my second viewing, I even had some thoughts about how God works in my life. Spoiler alert if you have not seen the film!

In the movie, we see how Maverick is always saved by his former wingman Iceman especially when others around him want him kicked out of the Navy. Reflecting on this, I thought about the graces that the Lord has bestowed on me over the years to do his will especially in situations I had doubts and fears. It was a good reminder of his faithfulness and friendship in my life just as Iceman’s friendship with Maverick was instrumental in Maverick accomplishing his goals.

Another point of reflection was when Iceman counsels Maverick that it’s time to let go of feeling responsible for his friend’s death. Letting go of his past thoughts of being responsible for his friend’s death reminded me of how God calls me each day to a new day. Each new day brings mercy and the opportunity to trust even more in my adventure with God. Just like Iceman had a plan for Maverick which was only accomplished when Maverick let go of his memories and guilt, so for me the Lord has a plan for me and my life, but I must be open and trust in God's loving plan.

In the movie, Maverick’s goal wasn’t just to teach the elite squad how to do a job on the mission: he also wanted them to believe in themselves and know that the task is possible. Reflecting on this, I couldn’t help but see how God has put many priests, seminarian brothers, and friends in my life who daily inspire, encourage, and challenge me to live and grow in my relationship with Christ especially on days when prayer seems challenging.

Finally, an important insight into the movie was when Maverick takes the hit that was intended for Goose. This moment in the movie reminds me of how Jesus is constantly on our side and how His Passion on the cross saves us from sin and that I have the opportunity to tap into that fount of grace through the sacrament of the Eucharist and Confession.

The purpose of the mission was to destroy the nuclear plant, but it took a lot of planning, training, and weeks to prepare for the attack. As I was leaving the theater thinking about this, I was struck by comparing their complicated, in-depth mission with the years of formation, planning, and preparation that seminarians undergo before priestly ordination. I know that he has a plan for me, there is a lot of training (formation) and just like the team needs each other for success, the seminarian isn’t alone on this journey. He has the guidance of the Church and brother seminarians who accompany him on this journey!

Pascal is in 4th College Seminary at St. John Paul II Seminary in Washington. Pascal’s home parish is St. Louis in Clarksville. Please pray for Pascal!