One day I was having a chat with a young on the priesthood, in all fairness I need to disclose that I brought it up to him, not he to me. As the conversation went on he brought up the issue of family, wanting a family and not being able to have a family. He right away admitted that the priest has a “church family” but it’s not the same. I answered a bit and then we moved on to something else.
So today, the day after Thanksgiving, I have decided to share some of my thoughts on this issue. By any means is this an expert opinion just the sharing of my experience yesterday. It has been a bit of an adjustment for my family and myself to embrace the reality that I don’t belong wholly to my family anymore. Yesterday was an interesting day, I was home, the family was here, some weren’t. I took my place at the table and looked around, it looked pretty good. The table was stuffed, both with food and people and I knew I was home.
There was an interesting tension, as I looked around and knew I was back home I was aware that I was away from where I belong, away from my community. As I counted my blessings it started with my family, and moved outward until I was thinking of my parish and people in my parish. I went for Mass at a nearby church which we don’t normally belong attend and again I felt at home but out of place. But even now as I write this I am comfortable knowing where I am is good and soon enough I will go back where I am supposed to be.
This whole experience has two points for me which I think are the heart of this reflection and what I would like to share.
1) Yes, indeed the parish community does become your family and it is a very fulfilling reality, not a substitute, but a reality all of its own. It makes the call to a celibate life both rich and engaging.
2) Going home is not just a good thing, its a necessary thing. We need to remember who are and whence we came, our family has a lot to do with that. More importantly, the offering of ourselves we make to God and His Church is incomplete if we don’t stay connected and find refreshment from our first community, our family.
I hope these rambling thoughts are helpful in your own reflection. Consider it! Consider Priesthood!
Well its not quite a week up I’m close to getting back on track to posting once a week. These past few days have been full enough to be happy.
This week we have had a lot going on here at our parish. As I mentioned before we are in the middle of creating a new parish directory, pictures started this Wednesday and have been going strong everyday since. Today is the last one of this campaign. The photographers are sharing our hall with our Ladies’ Guild in their Christmas Boutique and Bake Sale. I’ve already created a box of things and a decent IOU with them. Elsewhere on campus we had a Father and Son advent wreath building event, sadly I had to miss that since I was doing sign-ins for the pictures.
Advent seems to be pretty well planned out and I am looking forward to experiencing Advent in a parish setting again, it will also be my first time as a seminarian. This Advent is marked by a special new addition to our church, and spiritual preparation as well.We should all resolve to experience this advent to the fullest degree possible. Remember Advent just isn’t about the Sweet Baby Lord Jesus in the manage. In Advent we consider how the Lord comes in grace, comes in His Incarnation and will come at the end of time. On a personal note Father Mitch, my pastor, readily agreed to let me have my family here for Christmas. I hope they all agree, I am looking forward to hosting them. Sunday we had a concert here by composer Trevor Thomson and his group “Good Medicine”. It was a really beautiful event and enjoyed by many here at the parish.
You might find this article interesting. It is about recent admissions Eugenio Scalfari and his interview with the Holy Father. It just goes to show that we have to always seek the source of things said about the Church and the Holy Father.
In place of a video or quote I want to end with two simply words: TAKE ACTION. Consider it! Consider Priesthood!
A few years ago two car loads of seminarians traveled down from Mt Angel Seminary in early January to Paradise, CA for a priestly ordination. We had to leave in the afternoon and thus were traveling very late. As we came to the last stretch of our almost 11 hour journey we traveled up the road which lead to Paradise. This road was deserted, practically empty and surrounded by fog, in fact when we traveled that same road in daylight I was surprised to see that there was actually “stuff” on the roadside. That night it seemed like veering to the left or the right might cause us to fall of the face of the earth.
Doesn’t it seem discernment can be like that? Perhaps I am being a little dramatic but I was asked recently what I did to get over the fear I felt when I first began to discern my vocation. I responded that it took three things, prayer, time and action. In those early days it seemed all I could do was move from one point to the next and each departure to the next point in the discernment process was a whole new foggy road. I have written and shared a number of articles about the need for action in discernment but perhaps little has been said about the cause of inaction.
I think there are any reason why people of our generation are hesitant to follow God’s call. Many are willing but few seem to do so. There’s an old saying “better the devil you know than the one you don’t” and I think that rings true. However, no matter what it is in life fear works only if we let it paralyze us. As I look back on my discernment and where I am now I am see that while there was an element of fear or hesitation once I took that first step it not only became easier but it was something I wanted. I had broken free of the fear and bit by bit the road becomes more and more clear.
There’s a lot to discernment, a lot of questions to ask, a lot things with which each person must wrestle but there is no way around the fact that the only way to beat the fear is do something. Talk to somebody who will be objective. One of the greatest surprises for me was that the whole process took time. When I went for my first appointment with the Vocations’ Director I thought for sure I would be on the next train to the seminary. Quite the opposite happened. There was plenty of time before I had to make the grand journey to the seminary. The journey to the seminary is altogether suited for a different reflection.
So in closing, keep your eyes on Christ and walk towards Him. You might not see what is ont he edge of the road but you will clearly see His light that beckons you toward Him.
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