It has been a wonderful day so far! After two morning classes, I spent two hours with nature contemplating the philosophical question of what place emotions should have in law (and when I say this, I mean that I was catching up on reading for my Ethics class because I am EXTREMELY behind…). It was wonderful feeling as if I was back home at my grandparent’s pond and woods instead of in the middle of the city. I will definitely be taking advantage of the IMA Park here in Indy!
I would like to take this opportunity to describe to you (yes you, the person that is spending their time on their computer reading this blog instead of enjoying the wonderful weather!) my vocation story. I have been blessed to have been raised by two very devout and wonderful Catholics who taught me and my siblings at an early age the importance of our faith in life, particularly when people contradict you. All of my extended family as well as the majority of the community in rural Mercer County were German Catholics, so this only increased my strength. I remember in 3rd grade, when required to name three things that we wanted to do when we grew up, I wrote a priest, a football player, or an author. Besides this though, I do not remember a time that the possibility of priesthood was even on my radar. I was not against it, but it was not a thought of mine. Parish members of St. Marys, Philothea would mention it to me or my mom, and a retired priest who would come from St. Charles Retirement Center (former seminary for the Society of the Precious Blood) told me ever time we met that I should consider it-he now jokes and says that I should have joined the Precious Blood, so I guess I can’t completely satisfy him :). But whenever it would come up, I would smile and move along with life. It was an affirmation to the fact that I must be doing something right in my faith and nothing more.
You see, I had everything planned out for my life. At the end of my junior year of high school, I had a girlfriend of 8 months, and we shared a realistic, open, Christ-seeking relationship. I had visited multiple universities to check out their physics programs, from the University of Dayton, Notre Dame, Ohio University, and eventually the University of Chicago. I would have a large family with whoever ended up being doomed to be my poor wife :). Well, this was soon to be thrown out the window for good. (Ironically, it was my girlfriend at the time who liked a phrase that fit well: God laughs at our plans).
So this brings me to the end of my junior year. One night, I woke up from a dream that left me in a funk (the details are a little to complex to go into here, considering I don’t even know much about it myself). I woke up feeling….weird. I had no idea what I was feeling, I just know that it was strong and that it was all that I could think about for the next couple of weeks. I went on to have two other dreams in this time period that I do not remember the details to at all, but they reinforced these feelings.
About two weeks later, I went with a small group of people from our local youth group to the ordination mass of Fr. Dan Hess (who I recently found out is actually something like 3rd cousins to me) in Cincinnati. As the opening hymn began, the “weird” feeling that had invaded my life came back with more intensity than ever. The mass continued, and then the three men who were being ordained laid prostrate on the ground in front of the altar. It was at this time that I realized what the feeling that I had been having was: desire. Desire to be closer to Christ. Desire to serve him with my life. Desire to be in those three men’s position. I shed a few well-hidden tears.
Once I got home, though, I began to question the rational behind thinking about the priesthood. I had my life planned out. I had no idea what this would entail. And it would hurt my girlfriend. This was the biggest question behind my worry: what if this didn’t turn out to be for me, what if I make the wrong choice and destroy my relationship with her? I struggled with this for days (which did not go unnoticed by the gf or my parents).
On Memorial Day, a friend of mine held her graduation party in the church basement in Coldwater. I told my sister to go downstairs without me, that I was going to go into the church for a while. I kneeled and told God to show me what to do. It was here that I felt peace and heard a confirmation of the decision to pursue the priesthood and that God would work good through any decision that I made. That evening I broke up with my girlfriend and the next day I spoke to a seminarian who was staying in Coldwater for the summer. After getting some preliminary information about the process to get into the seminary, I went home and that evening told my parents the news. After months of learning and applications, I entered Bishop Simon Brute College Seminary in Indianapolis in August of 2012 and, to use the old cliche, “The rest is history!” God truly has worked wonders this year in my life, and I am thankful to have been guided by so many people to get to where I am.
Since I apparently have started a tradition of ending my posts with lyrics from a song or hymn, I find it appropriate to leave you with the lyrics of what has become my favorite hymn, “O God Beyond All Praising” (of which the second verse relates well to my nature experience this afternoon!), the entrance hymn from that ordination mass in 2011 that revealed to me the journey I was meant to take since being formed in my mother’s womb.
O God beyond all praising, we worship you today
and sing the love amazing that songs cannot repay;
for we can only wonder at every gift you send,
at blessing without number and mercies without end:
we lift our hearts before you and wait upon your word,
we honour and adore you, our great and mighty Lord.
2 The flower of earthly splendour in time must surely die,
its fragile bloom surrender to you our God most high;
but hidden from all nature the eternal seed is sown,
though small in mortal stature, to heaven’s garden grown:
for Christ, your gift from heaven, from death has set us free,
and we through him are given the final victory.
3 Then, hear O gracious Saviour, this song of praise we sing.
May we, who know your favour, our humble service bring;
and whether our tomorrows be filled with good or ill,
we’ll triumph through our sorrows and rise to bless you still:
to marvel at your beauty and glory in your ways,
and make a joyful duty our sacrifice of praise.