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Monday, May 10, 2010

Passion

I've made a decision....of sorts.


Today I received a response back to my most recent letter to the Passionists in St. Louis, which I sent under obedience to my spiritual director's orders. Sister is inviting me to visit them, in spite of what I revealed as a very peppered history and a hopeless amount of debt and obstacles.  My age, apparently, is not an issue; she reads in my letters sincerity, and in fact has not told the community about me as I am, in her words, "so far in the future".  By that she means that I won't be entering by May or August or October.  Yes, I'm an "if" but I am far in the future.


I gather from what she says that they are experiencing an unusually high number of inquiries and visits this year, and this is wonderful to "hear".  Please keep the St. Louis Passionists in your most heartfelt prayers!  I don't know if I will visit, or whether if I do, their particular community is for me, but this increase for them is a sign of the workings of the Holy Spirit, the life of the Church, and may He call MANY to this charism to offer their lives in union with the Passion of Our Lord!


So...you may be wondering, what is the "decision" I have made?


I may be speaking prematurely, but the one thing I know is that in order to progress in any way, I need to make a decision.  In looking at my life and circumstances through the lens of reason, I know when I can and can't visit religious communities. The great irony in working for the Church is that it is not easy to take more than a day or so away, for quite literally, my presence is required in nearly everything we do. There are times where it can be filled with volunteers or taken over briefly by a co-worker (at least in this parish),. but the reality is that I am not free to enter into discernment during the academic year. Of course, my own graduate studies has had something to do with this over the last three years, too.  Next school year will be a little different, but what is not being given to my own education is, really, going to translate into even MORE work and activities and crazy hours at the parish. That is the nature of working for the Church:  you give EVERYTHING whether you have it or not. 


That is the nature of God, deep calling into deep.


So, now, again,  I am facing another summer, a great gift of TIME, but also again, without the benefit of income.


Last year, about "now" when I met with my spiritual director and expressed my panic of oncoming financial disaster, he told me, "God is asking you to trust Him."  


He was right then, and I think, even more so now.  This year, though, the situation even more precarious:  It's not just the mortgage and credit for car repairs/maintenance & other random necessities I'm trying to pay, but now, both my undergrad loans (which have been subsidized in deferment while in school), and my UNsubsidized graduate loans, are all coming due. In fact, my grad loans have been due for the last few years, but have been in deferment in their unsubsidized state. Ergo: I owe more than my education actually costs.  


All I can see in front of me is disaster. And, having been in the job market even when it was good, even back when I was making decent money, well, I've NEVER had a job that will pay what I owe right now on a monthly basis.


And I have NEVER intended to be in a position to not pay my bills. I have always intended to pay them and have always worked hard to make sure I'm holding up my end. Thus far, I have excellent credit and I even keep an interior rolodex of money owed to people who helped me along the way, whether intended or not. I want to pay even that undocumented debt...and I WILL. Come hell and high water both at the same time, I was raised right, and I. Will. Pay. My. Debts. ESPECIALLY the personal ones.


Period


It doesn't make any logical sense, therefore, to state right now that I am giving this summer, again, to God.  


But I declare it so; this summer belongs to God. My Vocation is more important than anything else, because my salvation is dependent upon my Fiat to God in every circumstance. It is not that I effect my eternity, but a matter of operatio sequitor essse:  grace builds upon nature. 


A year ago I noted that we all work so hard for money, when really, all we really desire, all we really need, is actual TIME.  How many professionals have TIME to spend? Vacations are limited, overtime is premium pay, and in America, we tend to be obsessed with our jobs and what we put into them. 


I don't care anymore about Corporate America. I care to pay what I owe, but more than anything, I want to give to God what I owe HIM, and that is...time.  It is nearly impossible to find TIME for anything, but here it is, in my lap. I don't want to waste it. Live is not about making money, but about who we are in relation to God.


The other night, I was reminded that my life is not my own; I am called to lay it down, as are we all. 


Life to the Author of Life


Saturday evening, the vigil of  Mother's Day, after Mass I purchased three roses. One for one of my volunteers (who left before I could give it to her), one for my Mother whom I am not going to see for several weeks, and one to give the Blessed Mother.


I was almost in tears when I realized I'd purchased the rose too late for my volunteer, who has been so helpful to me this year, and really, ever since I began in my position.  Such a small token of respect, and I couldn't even give it to her! I considered leaving it for her, but realized by morning it would be wilted. I considered asking the people selling the roses (parishioners) to perhaps give it to her the next day, but realized in their busy-ness, it might be forgotten.


I wanted to give a rose to my mother, but as I wouldn't see her as usual for Mother's Day, I suddenly understood I had an option, one Mom would appreciate, one I would as well. After all....she raised me!


When I left work with the three roses, I drove to my home parish and went to the statues of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and Sacred Heart of Jesus. They aren't in the Adoration chapel, but in the main sanctuary of my parish, and I KNEW this was where I should make my offering. I laid the roses at the feet of the Immaculate Heart:  one in the name of my volunteer, one in my Mother's name, one...from me. Each was a different color, each, a different purpose. 


Two of those roses were in thanksgiving for lives lived according to God's plan.  One was in hope of a life yet to be fulfilled, but thanksgiving for the chance.


As I looked at those roses, I thought to myself, "I have just given God something HE created. How lame."


Then I understood a deeper lesson.  A lesson that brought home again the fact that we are not our own. We do not even possess ourselves. We "do what we do not want to do" in a constant battle against our passions, and therein is our own Passion; the Passion only revealed in light of the Cross.


I knew that it was one thing to hand a rose to Our Lord through His Mother, but it was merely symbolic of what I need to do: to lay down my own life. 


Roses die and enter the dumpster.




Souls grow and are united with the eternal life of God Himself. 


When I gave my rose this year, I did it as a symbol of my intention, my lived hope to not just lay down my life, but to enter into eternal holiness.  Not just in a symbol, but in reality.


I don't care if I have to live in a van down by the river:  my heart and soul belong to Jesus, and if that is true, so does my debt. Whatever happens....so be it.Jesus, I trust in thee. No matter what comes..I trust in Thee. Even if I have to live in a van down by the river.

4 comments:

KAM said...

You are going to make it. Somehow you must learn to completly trust in God. You've got nothing to lose. k

chadmccullough said...

A calling from God can be exciting, confusing, demanding and wonderful.

I'm a new Catholic. Well, actually, I'm going through the RCIA classes later this summer so I'm not officially Catholic, yet. I grew up in a Baptist church and at the age of 16, I decided that I didn't agree with the teachings of the Baptist faith and never went back. I didn't step foot in a church until I turned 43. I'm not sure what it was, but for years, I felt empty. About 8 months ago, I built a website for a local Catholic church here in Indianapolis. I spent quite a bit of time in the church office and with the Priest while working on the site design. When I first started working on the website, it was business, and only business. But I quickly realized that it was more than just business. I'm positive that it was God calling me to the church. It was a wonderful and scary moment when I stepped into a Catholic church to attend my first Mass. And to this day, when Father Stan walks up the aisle to start Mass, I get chills and a little teary eyed. One of the Sisters in the church told me that the chills and tears are God welcoming me to my new life. I can't imagine what the feeling is going to be like when I'm baptized and participate in my first communion. All I know is that I've never been happier.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that whatever you decide, God will help you with your decision, this I'm sure. :-)

God Bless

Adoro said...

Chad ~ Thank you so much for sharing that with me! Isn't it amazing how God reaches out to us through so many different means?

I'll keep you in my prayers as you go through RCIA, and I'm tearing up just THINKING of your entrance into the Church when you are Baptized, Confirmed, and receive Our Lord in your First Holy Communion! How incredible!

chadmccullough said...

Thank you so much! I'm very excited. And just so you know, blogs like yours are helping me with my journey. :-)