Sunday, April 23, 2006

God or the Girl: Finale...

You may not agree with me, but here are my thoughts.

Knowing that God is good and that He hears our prayers, our three remaining young men face their decisions and speak their convictions. Needless to say, I was not surprised. Although my predictions did not come as they were, spoke of some of my perceptions about these young men.

And isn't life all about perceptions?

Was this series supposed to change our views or perceptions of "ministry" and the process to get there? The path differs in as many people as there are on earth. One never knows for sure 100% what the "right" decision is. But I have heard it said that sometimes the "right" decision and the "easy" decision are not always one in the same. But sometimes they are.

How does God speak to us, and do we really listen for that still small voice? The world is so busy and noisy and people have expectations of us from all sides, I sometimes find it very difficult to sort out the silence amongst all the noise, that is till Winter comes or I go hide in a church somewhere far from city noise.

Discernment is such a tedious process.

  1. What is God telling me?
  2. And what should I do?
  3. And what factors into the decision I make?
  4. Do I follow my heart?
  5. Do I listen to people giving me suggestions?
  6. Does the past factor into my future?
  7. And do I have the courage to step up and say ok God, I will commit to some time in formation.
Because really, that's what a minor seminary is for to help you "follow a calling" to help you discern God's voice for you. If you've never set foot in a seminary, how can you decide NOT to follow the voice? If you've never set foot in a house of formation and you trek all over the U.S. and Canada trying to find God's voice, have you really stopped to listen for it in the first place?

I think that seminary visitation should come before one makes the decision to GO, because if you are not familiar with where you are going, how can you make an informed decision???

The world is so noisy and so many people have suggestions, LIKE ME...

Where do you go, where do you turn and how long do you wrestle with the Angel before you give up?

I have to say that as the hour passed by and I watched, I had my remarks and words as the decisions were revealed. Then I had to stop and think of what I wanted to write here, so this is all free flow thought. We must respect what God does and what peoples decisions are, for "I" am not and "we" are not God. I think Joe's journey gave him perspective, but I think that his decision not to enter the priesthood was slanted by his parents insistence that he become a priest. You know - this is my perception. If he had said yes, then he would have given in, and would that decision been made for his good or an admission of settlement? I don't know. The fact of the matter is he decided not to enter the seminary, YET after the six months have passed he is a lay minister and is doing ministry work and he wants to meet someone and settle down. I think he still wrestles with the angel. And as long as that goes on the calling to the priesthood is still up in the air. At some point you will stop and really discren what is right and where you should go if that be in a relationship with a woman or with God.

So be it.

Had that been me - I would have taken some time to visit and spend time in serious prayer in a house of formation to really test the call against my own will. His issue was celibacy or marriage. I did not hear a voice that said Ok, God I'm ready, do with me as you will not as I will. Now as I write this, this thought crossed my mind. Yeah, you wrestled for ten years, your parents pressured you and I think that played into it, and I don't know if you really desired to determine God's will rather than sort out your priorities with your family. Because a lot of the air time was spent in you dealing with the resentments you had against your parents, namely your mother. I know about resentments being in recovery. That was plain and simple to me.

Joe may have spent time in retreat centers and all and gone on a 200 mile pilgrimage, but he had the word before he left, you won't know until you go! Shit or get off the pot. Maybe his decision would have been different had his parents not harped on him for as long as they did about becoming a priest. Maybe if he had spent time in a place where he could experience the divine in a quiet setting and tested the call for himself and not stressed over what his mother wanted maybe he would have decided differently. Had I the opportunity to do it differently and had times been different maybe I would have done things differently.

Hindsight is 20/20...

I mean did you not see the total shock on his parents face when he said NO to the call, I think for a moment they were mortified. So you decided not to go, God's speed Joe. Just know that God is always there and maybe one day you might feel that gentle "nudge" and if you do I hope you might have the courage to recognize it and do something about it.

Dan of Fort Zion. Your youth precedes you. OH to be young again!! And I think that the path you chose was the best for you because you know - you make a difference in peoples lives and that you MOVE young people to love God and to serve him. The youth need good role models and I think Fort Zion is a great model to follow. I loved youth ministry when I worked in that area earlier in my life. You never know where God will lead you, and you never know if the work you do for others might foster a "Calling" in one of the young men or women you minister to where you are. There is plenty of time to figure it out, and I think not deciding to go, is in itself, in your case, the best decision because you did not discount the possibility of seminary in the future, but you committed to your community there and if you and Amber get together, then Mazel Tov for you both.

I saved the best for last...

I can't begin to tell you how proud I am of Steve. I knew in my heart of hearts that once you had that cathartic religious experience in Guatemala, that you would not come back to the United States the same boy you were when you left. It is so hard to give up the material to follow the ethereal. But you followed the voice to a place that changed you from the inside out. And that's what matters, that you recognized the internal shift which made it easier to make a decision to step towards God. I think it was NOBLE to seek God out in the places that you may not have thought to find him. That was the best suggestion you received to Go on a Mission by your team leader.

The world needs good men of faith, and I think that you learned a truly valuable and important lesson. And I hope that You write to Father Jorge and tell him that you decided to enter the seminary so that he can pray for your vocation and I hope that one day you might go back and see the people who served you in Christ in the simplicity of their lives. He told you that he wanted you to come back there as a missionary... He knew before you did I think.

I was truly touched by your journey and I pray for your calling. You will be in my prayers, all of these young men will be in my prayers. I think it was good - very good that you visited a house of formation, in the final clip. I know what that feels like to "know" where you are and to feel that "calling" from within when you are in a sacred place. It was very courageous of you to announce your decision at your home parish. To let the community be part of your formation process, shows great character. I was truly moved.

I hope that you might take time in your years of formation to go do Mission work - maybe return to Guatemala and find Fr. Jorge and to be "built up" from within by giving your life to those who helped you get to where you are. Never forget those moments for the road is long and arduous and there will be times when you question your calling, and it is in those moments that you remember WHY you are where you are and why you Chose to enter seminary. May those people who touched you so deeply be forever in your prayers. For you never know when one of those people may step foot into your church and say remember me? For I remember you.

God bless you Joe and Dan and May God bless your vocation Steve.

All my best to you all...


Anonymous bender said...

I think you are fairly spot on with Joe. What he needed to do, and still needs to do, is get the hell away from all the over-bearing influences of his family. Mom especially has his head all twisted up that it was impossible for Joe to determine if he was called or not, or if his decision not to go was because he determined that he was not called, or because he didn't want to appear to be caving in to Mom. Perhaps if, years ago, he had moved far out of state, far away from Mom and Dad and siblings, he might now be saying "yes." It seemed like the only time he had a clear head and was able to think clearly was on his little David Banner-type trek (for all you Hulk fans out there).

Dan -- well Dan is way, way, way too young, and getting younger by the moment. His girlfriend seems to have a much better head on her shoulders -- much more grounded. He too needs to get out of his little cocoon, and stop being a frat-boy before he is in any position to start thinking clearly about anything.

Steve -- yes, he was the only one who really got it, who really understood. I forget exactly what he said, but he said when he first heard the call, when he first wondered if this is what God wanted, he was terrified. Again, I don't remember exactly how he put it, but it reminded me of the stories I heard about both Cardinal Karol Wojtyla and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger when the idea of them becoming pope was first brought up. Both of them, like many popes before them, it is said, were fearful, did not want it, and cried at the very thought. But they (and Steve, I believe) remembered that it is not merely a job. Jesus didn't put an ad in the newspaper soliciting resumes -- He went around to guys minding their own business and chose them. They didn't submit applications to Him, He said "follow me." And "wanting" it, in the sense that one wants a job, has nothing to do with it.

I think that Steve gets that. He was called (or so it would appear), and that initial fear, followed by understanding and acceptance, has led to joy. Father Jorge had it right too -- all he has to give is his life, and by giving up his life, he will find it.

1:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a question, and it is a sincere one. Why do we have to wrestle so much with HOW we determine what God is saying? Why does he make it so secretive? If you loved someone SO MUCH that you would DIE for him, wouldn't YOU make your communication with that person plain and understandable? Why all the smoke and mirrors from God? Why does he hide from us, and make us wonder what his will is? When you love someone, don't you show it plainly? Do you make them guess about your love for them and your desires for them? Then why does God?


9:10 AM  
Anonymous bender said...

Just yesterday I read in then-Cardinal Ratzinger's "Salt of the Earth," p. 30, that God does speak to us, again and again, but "it is also important for the receiver, so to speak, to be tuned to the broadcaster. And our average way of living and thinking causes too much interference that keeps the sound from coming through. Moreover, we are so alienated from His voice that we simply do not recognize it immediately as His."

That is, not only do we have so many voices speaking in our ear that we cannot discern one voice from the other (see Joe's situation), but the effects of Original Sin have so impaired us that we wouldn't know God if he came to Earth and lived among us. Oh, wait, He did do that, and most did not recognize Him.

I suppose that God could simply open up the skies and speak in his deepest and most booming voice, as He did with Arthur, King of the Britons, but He does not do so out of love for us. That may sound odd, but true love does not impose itself on anyone. Real love, as in God's love, does not force itself on anyone. He does not compel anyone to believe or follow. It is entirely our free choice of the will. Thus, it is our obligation to listen, not God's obligation to speak louder.

3:10 PM  
Blogger CanEragon said...

Well, I have no stomach for Benedict. He just rubs me the wrong way. I've learned to be objective when reading "encyclicals" and papal writings.


4:18 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home