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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Pilgrim for Life

I don't have a home.

Ok, I have a roof over my head, and I'm paying for it every month, and with the impending recession, I might even lose it...or my car, or default on my electricity. And I call it "home" but it isn't. It's a place were I live, but even as I signed the documents, I never had a sense of "roots." It's just a place to reside and which gives me credibility as a tax-paying homeowner.

This semester as I've read the Letter to Diognetus, both in class and more recently, in the Liturgy of the Hours, I've been struck by the meaning. I've written of it before, but as time goes on, there is more depth and significance to the description.

For most of my life, I really haven't felt "home". I moved to Minnesota when I was 10; we'd lost our home in Illinois thanks to divorce, welfare and foreclosure (in that order), and moved into an apartment closer to Mom's family. And even that was home...but not really. I've lived everywhere, not really having roots. Where I live now, my townhome, which is signed and paid for under my name, is not really "home". It's a roof over my head, certainly, but even as I signed the documents, I have had a sense it's a temporary place; a jumping-off point. I will moving from here into whatever committment I give for the rest of my life.

I think it's my final waystation - until I make some kind of a committment.

Even with regard to my parish, it's still not eternal. It's "home", more so than even my house because it's my spiritual home thus it transcends the temporary reality. Yesterday when I went to my Adoration hour, I felt guilty because I am not as involved in my parish as I used to be. I'm far more involved in my work parish, and yet, it's my work...shouldn't I still be doing something in my own?

But all those things I'm drawn towards take place at my own parish...while I'm working all the way across town! And so when I do happen to be able to come "home" for Mass or for Adoration, I'm there for a retreat of sorts. There are no expectations of me. I can be there just to be there, and I realize more and more how important that is. Because if it were otherwise, I'd be burned out.

Spiritual Pilgrim...Eternal Pilgrim

Today at Mass, at the parish that employs me, I though about religious life. It is a life of pilgrimage. For those who are called to contemplative life, they are drawn to a specific location to live out their days in prayer and sacrifice. I don't feel called to such a thing. Rather, I look back upon my life of constant rootlessness, and realize that I'm not finished and maybe there will never be a set "home" for me. And maybe that's a good thing; I love travel, I love changes in location, and as much as I love my friends and do desire roots, there is something more that pulls at me.

I almost have the expectation that no matter where I am, it is temporary.

The community I am currently considering is diocesan, thus if I choose them and if they choose me, I might spend my life moving from post to post in service to our Lord and His people. It's not contrary to the Dominican charism which I still believe I possess, but rather, it may be a fulfillment of it, for my life would be mendicant. No place on earth is home...only Heaven is home.

So maybe I am called to be a pilgrim for the rest of my life; for our home here is only an illusion. We are granted the blink of God's eye, and then we meet Him for eternity. Why, then, waste time on temporal things, unless our temporal pursuits guide others towards the eternity that awaits them?

I confess to be inspired by the presence of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, who spent even more time with the Sisters who came to him than he did with the seminarians. I was moved by the witness of so many Seminarians, Priests, and Religious who cheered him, who had given their lives to the Lord, and to the witness of our Pope himself who has forfeited his life to the One who was Crucified for us.

It is powerful, and indeed, it draws me into such a witness. In the face of such loving power, the world holds nothing of value. And I realize that if I give my life to Jesus, I in fact gain the entire world and all of eternity, all at His whim and call. Who would not desire such a thing?


I have to add a disclaimer...there are those of you who have left comments and emails that seem to signify that you portend the final outcome of my discernment. Take care!

I'm thankful for your prayerful support, and perhaps my life will fulfill your predictions. Yet I have to caution you for even I don't know the outcome, and I'll be the FIRST to know the true result. I can see a number of outcomes for there is much of my discernment that will NEVER find an outlet on this blog. You get the surface; the interior belongs to God alone.

A few years ago when I started this blog and revealed to people that I felt I might be Called, they gave me some wonderful support. And then I determined that I was likely not called.

EVERY. SINGLE. ONE of my friends, those people who know me the best, told me quietly AFTER my "decision" that they also NEVER believed I was called to religious life.

They know me, they love me, and as such, they kept those deep opinions to themselves for they loved me so much that they wanted me to make this journey without their biased influence. Realize that these friends know me, my hard edges, and my flaws which never seem to end.

I've heard it more than once from them that they truly believe that I am not called to be united so intimately with Jesus. Indeed, I am even now one of the LAST people you would think could be called to such a life.

I must say it again...each one of my friends told me in private that they "knew" I was not Called...but that they felt I needed to explore that and realize it for myself.


Some of you think you know how this will end. So I find it important to say that you have no idea how this will end.

I have two friends who seriously discerned a call to religious life. The first KNEW she was called to it and was only searching for a community. She so desired to live out her life as a Nun, and lived a very holy life in the meantime as a lay woman.

She then met her husband and is happily married, a pillar of our Catholic community, and a dear friend without whom I would be lost.

Another friend made her Call known to me in the beginning my own discernment a few years ago. You would have to know this woman...there has rarely been such a pure soul. Just a single look into her eyes, and one could see Christ. She had heard her call through bells, and as she told her story, her eyes shone. A dear priest I know had looked at her in a special moment and told her, "Yes...I see it." An affirmation from a source so highly respected by us all.

She had narrowed her search for home and found a few communities, visited them, chose one, applied, was accepted...and was awaiting her entrance.

And then she met her husband...and is now happily married.

Some of you may think you have me figured out; realize that a great deal never makes it to my blog. Realize that there is more to this story, most of which will never be made public. Perhaps I am to remain single, or perhaps I am called to marriage.

I have a theory; the friends who came so close had made a decision. They loved Jesus and still do, but they arrived at that point where they were willing and able to make a decision. Their "YES!" to the Lord for what the perceived did not just encompass one Vocation, but them all. God tests us, and calls us, even to what we do not think we want.

Sometimes there are obstacles, but if we can overcome our obstacles and give our unconditional fiat to the Lord, then, finally, He can work with us. I think that's what happened with my friends. They gave their acquiescance to His will...and He rewarded them with the desires of their hearts.

So, don't be too quick to say you know how this will end...the ending may be a surprise to us all.


RJW said...

I always wanted to be married. Everyone told me I should be a priest. I was still single into my forties. I finally decided that was what God wanted me to do. My work in diffferent ministries as a single person. Then at forty four I married a beautiful woman with two little boys who I later adopted. We had one girl and now nine years later my wife and I are divorcing. At least amicably. Every time I think I have figured out what God has in store for me, the story changes. I have decided to quit trying to discern what He has in store for me. He will let me know in His own time and way. I just pray each day and try to go about His and my business as best I can. It keeps me from going crazy. God bless you on your journey! I find your posts most enlightening and helpful.

uncle jim said...

YoBro say: just keep on seeking - God will show you the next step, not necessarily the destination.

Fr. V said...

Whatever you decide - decide it after July.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree that it's the OPENNESS that is important. You are sincerely discerning... so many people "land" in matrimony b/c it's the norm. So many people say, "I am not called to the consecrated life / priesthood because..." and act like God is not bigger than the "because." And I completely agree that the essense of discernment is between you & God. Keep the sacred sacred. BLESSINGS...

Fr John Speekman said...

Thanks, Adoro, very interesting. As I pray for all those discerning the Lord's call in their life I pray you will too.

Maureen said...

I've totally given up on guessing all this stuff. If God wanted me to figure out His will in re: a career, he'd have made me a Human Resources manager or given me a job in my major.

So at the moment, I'm committed to getting up in the morning, keeping up with my podcast, doing my assigned job and my church stuff, and not committing any mortal sins. That's about as much of God's will as I can discern.

Fr. Andrew said...

I kept asking the Lord to make it clear to me as I'm thick-headed.

Mt 7:9-11.

Anonymous said...

Not much time to post. Mostly, I support you, keep the faith, the Spirit will let you know when it is right, amen!