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When it’s coming at you from all sides…

…sometimes there’s a reason for it.  I place the blame for this post firmly on Adoro and Fr. V – and life in general, but that doesn’t have a blog.

For some time now I’ve been contemplating – and avoiding contemplating – the issue of my vocation.  That contemplation has largely been simultaneously at the root of and caused by my absence from this blog.  I’ve been able to keep myself sufficiently occupied that the only energy I have for large thinking lands squarely on this issue while somehow also making sure I don’t expend enough energy to actually get anywhere in dealing with it.  It has been, one might say, a study in the art of procrastination.

But Adoro’s post on her issues in discernment jolted me.  Thick-headed as I am, even that was insufficient to kick my complacency firmly out of the way.  It took another, and for my reading pattern, almost simultaneous post by Fr. V on largely the same issue to dislodge my perpetual paralysis enough to even contemplate writing about it.  That I’m starting this post at after 11:00 PM is another sign of how intransigent my procrastination has become.

As a quick rewind, there was a time before I entered the Church and for some time after when I was quite sure I would some day become a priest.  It was quite simply a fait accompli, only awaiting the Bishop’s invitation and confirmation.  I was not dissuaded from this perception by anyone for any reason and was quite thoroughly comfortable with the idea of never belonging to myself again.  Until that plan crashed in brilliant flames in the office of the Diocesan Vocations Director.  I still have but a muddled memory of that meeting and subsequent drive home.  How it all happened, how it all worked I’m still not entirely sure, but by the time that day was over I knew I would never be a priest.  Not being one to dwell immediately on the past I put that to rest and set out to find to what new life God had called me.

Since then life has been full of the things that make the average life.  There have been plenty of ups and a good number of downs, times when I could sense God right next to me and times when I had to fight to keep the mere concept of Him alive in my head.  Through it all there has been this underlying current of a whisper I once heard in a dream, “I have something better for you.”  That statement has so many layers of meaning my mind quivers at the thought.

I spent time as an, if you will, “average” Catholic just attending Mass and raising my family and not getting any more involved than that.  It was a good life, a very good life, but it was a fight within myself to not do something more.  Never having been one to do anything halfway I took it as a personal challenge to keep in that middle one way or another.  I’d offered my very existence and was told that wasn’t what was desired of me; any pretensions to the contrary were to me only an effect of an ego still not quite sure of itself.  Yet there was that gnawing need to do something more; not something “different” as a replacement of what I had been doing, but a more that added to it.

Then my son began school and the impropriety of my standing on the sidelines wondering about the state of the Church he was about to discover but never involving myself in any effort to make it better sprang on me in a way that was utterly unexpected.  At my wife’s behest I did an end-run around my complacency and signed up to work with the RCIA team at our parish.  Still being unable to do anything halfway I have spent the time ever since devouring books that I might begin to have a clue sufficient to teach those souls for whom I now held some responsibility at least something of use.

And yet, after some time even that was not satiating the do-more beast.  The battle was waged within me once more.  More than once I yelled to myself, “this is it, all that I have, there’s nothing more to give!”  I didn’t even convince myself but I was willing to have the argument none the less.

Two things happened in short succession that have started that whole gristmill churning again.  First, I happened across a copy of St. Dominic and the Rosary, a hagiography on St. Dominic targeted largely for children.  Strange though it may seem, it was like a giant battery was attached to my vocational battery.  Reading how St. Dominic confronted the heresy of his day and reconverted so many fallen-away Catholics was like an invitation written in time and placed directly in front of me.  Here was a man, simple of means, who set an example from which I simply could not tear myself.  The Dominican Order is, without a doubt, entirely intriguing to me; I do not consider it a coincidence that St. Catherine of Siena is the patron saint of my parish.

Then one day, in so many words and at least to me completely out of the blue, my wife asked me if I’d ever considered becoming a Deacon.  All these pretensions about living a simple average life were being smashed to kindling at a rapid pace.  My mind raced to find excuses – “I’m too young, they’d never accept me”; “maybe when the kids are out of school”; “I’d just never be any good at any of it” – yes, the usual suspects.  If my wife, who knows me better than anyone in this world, thinks I might have that calling …  My head continues to spin.

I have never, ever, been one to like to step foot in a situation I did not fully understand from the beginning.  Yet I find myself surrounded of late by reminders that Christ calls us to faith not proof, trust not pre-made decisions.  Am I being asked to ask the Church to serve in a special way once again?  What will happen if She says no?  What will happen if She says yes?  Trust.  Faith.

So, at the end of this entirely-too-long post I only hope you have some small understanding of why I’ve been so lax in posting of late.  With our RCIA classes having just started up again and my heart, mind and soul slowly working through this series of questions I’m sure I’ll have plenty about which to post.  I only hope it isn’t as dizzying for you the reader as it has been for me.  Thy Will be done, Lord.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • keith September 30, 2009, 8:08 am

    I will be sure to continue to include you in my prayers. As someone who is still in discernment, I know that this is a difficult and somewhat confusing time. You can throw away all the “I’m not worthy” and “I’m not good enough” arguments, however, because you’re not. No one is. Since no one is, if those were valid arguments, we’d have no clergy. So, put those out of your head.

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