My wife and I are expecting a baby soon, within the month actually. It’s kind of blowing me away. We will leave our house, just the two of us, then return as a trio. Sure baby has been growing for eight months but it gets really different after birth. I’ll be introduced to wiping butts and being thrown up on. Wails and giggles. More Disney movies than I ever thought possible.
I was reflecting on this the other day along with the fact that our first anniversary is next month. Wow, what a year. Marriage is awesome, hard and challenging, but awesome. It’s a very different way of living than during my bachelor years in the wilderness of discernment. Living single-hood out felt like it was the trunk of a tree and I knew inside that at some point that my branches would split the further I got along. I didn’t think I would spend the rest of my life in single-hood but looming decisions on where I wanted to go versus what I thought God wanted me to do had me digging my feet in.
I resisted the thought of anything other than marriage. Single-hood was a no go and priesthood, haunted me. Even years after promising God my life I still resisted giving Him my all. I had a hard time trusting where He was taking me, so I walked the wilderness. With a pull on my heart for the priesthood battling with the desires for marriage I spent over a decade discerning. It wasn’t until God wrestled me into spiritual submission that I relented and offered my heart for whatever He had in store. It could have gone any direction at that point. Enter Ani, my wife.
I wanted to write about this to you because vocations is something that we put away in our head for later or we just assume one is our destiny without any thought or prayer. The challenge for you as you are plotting the course of your life through work and class, is to remember that God is calling you to something bigger than the career you’ve chosen at 18, 19, 20, 21, 22+.
For many of you, you know what you want. Is it what God wants of you? Have you asked? Yes, He wants a great relationship with you but how are you living that out? Have you given your life direction to Him? Have you thought about it? Does it scare you? What is holding you back? What would it take to do so? Just questions I want you to ask yourself. Go ahead. I’ll wait. No no, He’ll wait.
Single-hood, Marriage, Priesthood/Religious life are all good things and God knows your heart better than you. “Take delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4. Need help figuring it out? That’s ok. There are some great places you can turn. All you have to do is ask. Priest, spiritual director, youth/ campus minister, and sponsor are great starts. As St. Gianna Molla advises, “To know your vocation: 1/Ask God in prayer 2/ Ask one’s spiritual director 3/Ask oneself, knowing one’s own inclinations.”
College goes quick, what’s next?
REVISED THOUGHTS 6/5/17 ***
I don’t know how I didn’t include an important vocational milestone here so I’m going to reflect further. Fr. Leon celebrated his twenty-fifth anniversary of Ordination this past weekend. That’s a big deal. Fr. Leon celebrated Mass with a full house, surrounded by people he’s built over the course of his lifespan. From his sister, brother-in-law, and nephews sitting in the front pew, his teachers from elementary school, Bishop Grosz as one of his fellow fraternal brothers from Assumption parish, parishioners from every assignment he’s been blessed to serve at, all in the environment of his current home here at St. Greg’s.
Answering the rhetorical question of the priesthood being a solitary life, Fr. Leon looked around and said, “If this is a lonely vocation, then give me a double helping!” Afterwards, over eight hundred fifty guests came over to party at the Ministry Center as a celebration of a life well lived in vocation. Now that’s community!
The priesthood was on full display this weekend with celebrations here at St. Greg’s and across the Diocese as four new priests were Ordained on Saturday.
Whether you’re celebrating one, ten, twenty five, fifty, or anywhere in between of whatever vocation God is putting on your heart, it’s a celebration worth embracing for a life well lived. I’m sure no one will say it’s easy, but it’s certainly a life worth fighting for.
“All the Lord’s ways are beautiful because their end is one and the same: to save our own soul and to succeed in leading many other souls to heaven, to give glory to God.” – St. Gianna Molla
*Originally published in Oasis Magazine 6/2/17