Thursday, April 28, 2016

And of Us.



I haven't been writing a lot during this ordeal with my kidneys.  My mind is still fuzzy from all the medicine and to be honest, I sleep more than I stay awake.  I've been doing something my spiritual director told me to do though.   In this time when I just don't have it to pray with words, I am praying with my pain.  You know that old saying?  Offer it up.   Instead of trying to put it to words.. I just offer my pain to God.. not for an intention, not for my purposes.. but for his.  I'm not avoiding the pain medicine.  I was at first.  I thought at first maybe this was my call, that God wanted me in pain to suffer for him.  It took me a while to figure out though that God doesn't want me in pain... but when I am in pain, he wants me to still turn to him.

One of my favorite poems growing up was this:

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, 
And sorry I could not travel both 
And be one traveler, long I stood 
And looked down one as far as I could 
To where it bent in the undergrowth; 

Then took the other, as just as fair, 
And having perhaps the better claim, 
Because it was grassy and wanted wear; 
Though as for that the passing there 
Had worn them really about the same, 

And both that morning equally lay 
In leaves no step had trodden black. 
Oh, I kept the first for another day! 
Yet knowing how way leads on to way, 
I doubted if I should ever come back. 

I shall be telling this with a sigh 
Somewhere ages and ages hence: 
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— 
I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference.

In tomorrow's readings we see this calling of individuals.  Since even my youngest days I knew that men were called by God, chosen by him to do things.  One of the things I never really noticed as a protestant though was that little phrase there in acts: It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us.  People often ask me why I am Catholic.. why am I going through the diaconate.. why spend 7 years of my life in discernment when I could just listen to God and he would tell me where to go and what to say.   Why?  Because of that verse and other verses like it.   God didn't give us a book.  He didn't give us just the Holy Spirit... but also the Church.  Jesus didn't write a single word that we have recorded, besides an incident in the sand.  We can only guess what he wrote there.  What he did give us were his disciples, his Apostles, and they began (as evidenced by the Scriptures the Church gave us) to make decisions on how things would work after Jesus left, inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus in the Gospel shows us again that it is not our own calling, not our own decision whether we will serve God the Father.  It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”  That's why I am going through this process.. that is why I went to His Church.. the original Christian Church.. the Catholic church.   It has existed since the time of Jesus with an unbroken line of Apostolic authority.  As such I defer to the Church to help me understand my calling.   They in turn offer me training and formation.  They offer me the Sacraments to assist me in the journey and knowledgeable Priests, Deacons, and lay men and women who are uniquely and extremely qualified to assist me on this journey.

At our last class each man who was discerning this call got up and gave a small speech on two of the many topics that we covered throughout this year of aspirancy.   I was constantly amazed at how each person had their own unique way of presenting the material and yet, each one spoke the Gospel truth with their words.  Each of us has been chosen, called to something... God willing to the Diaconate itself... and each of us is charged with using our unique personality, abilities and gifts in living out that call.  We can't do it alone though.. we must turn to the grace of the Sacraments, to the grace of the Church, unleashed by the keys of Peter to pour out on us at any time we ask for them.   Why not make use of them? Why avoid that channel of grace?  Jesus is waiting for us to come back to him.. to be a part of his life.   God is calling you... he has revealed himself fully to you in the person of Jesus Christ..  He wants to show you the way to live an authentic, full and unique life with an abundance of grace, love and hope.   As Robert Frost mourned in his poem, there are different roads to be travelled and you cannot travel both.   Yet God loved us so much he gave us a signpost to lead us, one which can be read with careful prayer, guidance and listening to the Holy Spirit and the Church.  What are you waiting for?

His servant and yours,
Brian

"He must increase, I must decrease."