Thought Into Existence – The 100th

Here’s the second of previously started writings that I never got around to posting. This, I believe, came from early September of last year.  Why did I choose this one?  It’s a fair question.  I think it’s rather significant, and there’s a lot that goes into thoughts.  This of course becomes personal, and possibly egotistical, but ah, perhaps it’s time you met more of who I am.  As I’ve reached this kind of milestone, I think it’s due time for some memories and that oh so fun and lovely thing known as nostalgia.  With that, I begin.

~

“We’ve stumbled upon something.  Because God is unceasingly thinking about us, we continue to exist.”  Approximately what my best friend said, though with less of her finesse or characteristic speech patterns.  It’s highly likely that I just did both an injustice.

A while back, we were discussing superpowers, of all things, and the idea of being able to think someone to you.  However long you’re focused and thinking about them, they remain present, and it’s only when they leave your mind that they return to wherever they were.  Naturally, this power is something that should have a number of caveats, like some amount of control as to when it works, otherwise you might have dozens or even hundreds of people popping into existence next to you for the briefest of instances.
Though of course, my mind would definitely turn its attention to such individuals, and well, there goes my peace and quiet.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about… people… a lot.  I guess it’s just in our human nature, to have others on our minds.  My time at work is devoted to focus on people.  There’s that connection that every interaction needs to have, and it’s truly a life skill to have, being able to touch people with the most basic of things.

Well, what more basic and heartfelt way is there than a prayer for them? That’s often what happens at work. Whenever there’s a lull in the number of incoming guests and while I’m maybe cleaning or restocking something, I might ask that my mind be focused on who it needs to.

An odd feeling, instinctual in nature, was what struck me.  It was at 5pm today, and I had no idea what caused it.  There I was, having an immensely enjoyable time at work, when suddenly I felt it internally, like a shiver that lacked the icy surroundings.  It’s hard to be sure, but I knew in that moment that something wrong had happened somewhere.
I couldn’t be sure if someone I knew had been affected, and so I did the only thing I could: asked God to help… someone out there.

*The physicality of my power is of course, limited – but by the universality of the Church, I can go quite far indeed. This is perhaps part of the beauty of faith, that we can believe and hope in goodness, even if we might never see the results of that which we hold to.

It’s like… Legacy. You don’t get to see what remains in the aftermath of your leaving, in your wake. Lots of people are concerned with what sort of mark they’re leaving, what lives on beyond them.  I can only hope that I make a good impact, whether physical or spiritual.  I want to bring my loved ones home with me.  I don’t want to lose them.  That’s the mark I wish for, the mark of those I surround myself with, living evermore.

~

When I started writing this blog roughly four years ago, I never thought that I would end up where I am today.  If I try to think back and remember what I was concerned about at the time, it was probably the next fun Scouting activity I would attend, or perhaps the upcoming youth group meeting with 1×1 at Saint Maximilian Kolbe, or maybe not looking dumb in front of some girl I was trying to impress.

Back then, I was more girl crazy than in recent times – shocker, I know – and I do apologize to anyone who has seen me in such a state, at any stage of my young life.  In conjunction with that, I was a more violent, more boisterous, and more brash character, things which I must again apologize for, as they are traits not yet vanished from who I am.
Still, there were positives.  I was a more avid reader, a person who was keen on drawing and making art in various media forms; someone who was not easily distracted or dissuaded from any goal, no matter how preposterous.  I loved really getting outside and breathing life in; not taking the heavens down to me in my confinement, but instead shooting upward to place myself among them like the many skyward sparks from the fire that I built with my own two hands.

Over the years, with each piece of media absorbed, I began to take on different characteristics of the people I saw, both fictional and not.  I believe I’m a very “feely” person, a very empathetic fellow, and oftentimes, being that sort of character can get me into good and bad mindsets.  In time, I took on the fun childishness of the Doctor, the witty cynicism of Fish, the imagination of Rose, the determination of Will, the rage and guilt of Batman and Daredevil, the force of Kestin and Edict, and the foolish hope of… oh, that might actually be mine.

The point is, I’ve changed, and more than I could have expected.  When I began, all those years ago, I never expected that leaving Scouting would push me onward to new adventures in Trail Life and Saint Gertrude.  The funny thing is, when I worked at Camp Friedlander, during staff week, we took a trip to St. Gertrude’s for an early Sunday Mass, which was one of my first experiences with the church.  And again, St. Gertrude’s returned when my older sister was leading me and my peers through the Ad Altare Dei religious emblem program, when we went there for vespers with the brothers.  Again, a third time, when my family was exploring different parishes, it almost became our home parish.  Almost.  And I think there was a very good reason for it not being so.

The reason?  If we had taken to Saint Gertrude, everything that is now, College Kenosis, my membership in the UC Society of Saint Paul, my role as an Altar Server at Annunciation, all of that would be nonexistent.  Perhaps even Eagle Eye would have been lost.  I can look back on those moments now and understand why things went a certain way, I see where the Spirit led me on this long road.
Thus, with the present hardships I’m facing, I can hope for the day that I get to look back on those and say: “Yes, this led me to the great here and now, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

I’ve been fortunate in my life to have been a part of many great communities:  Tang Soo Do, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Sacred Heart of Jesus Homeschool Group, Kali, St. Max, The RPG Group, Trail Life, St. Gertrude, my year’s P&G Resident Scholar Program family, Chick-Fil-A, The SSP, Eagle Eye and my fellow Eaglets, the CState Crew, and others that I’ve forgotten.

They all had or currently have their turn in forming me, and the people I have met have been guides, friends, and companions all.  I’ve lost a lot of them over the years.  Some faded from memory, some through my own fault, some with a heartfelt farewell, and some with a promise of renewal in some future day.

My legacy, my very heart, has been in my friends and family.  That’s why I think of them often, why they still exist to me in all the greatness that I knew them as.  They have been and always will be my spirit, and my strength is in them, no matter how much they change and vanish into their own futures, their own separate paths, and no matter how weak I myself become.

The weight of life is heavy, and it is painful to carry alone, we all know this.  As I’ve changed, feeling a strange vulnerability that I hardly experienced in younger years, as my eyes were opened to this world I live in, others were my guardians, and they saw me through the most desperate of times.

That’s who I am.  I am many, yet one.  I am the amalgamation of my experiences, I am the countless lives I have dreamed, but most importantly, I am the son of the Most High.
I am… Migi.

To everyone in my life, thanks for being part of my journey.

Shatterpoint (An Analogy)

Hello, 2017, you’re an odd kettle of fish.

Perhaps it’s time to come back down off of that ethereal plane of a new year high and reconsider things.  I’m trying to break out of a bad habit… again.

The habit in question is… wait for it… you’d never believe me if you knew me in the past… oh… 6 months or so… video games.  Dun dun dun.  Oh, the horror!  So, as you can probably tell, it’s severely hampered my writing abilities in this mind-numbing fashion that brings out all the animalistic instincts I normally try to dissociate myself from.  Did I use that word correctly?  Oh well.

My point is… I need to get back to this.  I need to retune my skills like one attempts to tune an instrument (which I’m terrible at, ask any of my siblings).  And what else to bring me back to writing but a sobering, earthly subject?

I confess, I used a particular video game as an escape route, *cough* Shadow of Mordor *cough* thinking it quite cathartic in venting streams of anger that I didn’t quite know what to do with.  Am I an angry fellow?  I like to think I keep myself rather even tempered, but I’ve been prone to odd outbursts lately, and here’s where things actually start.  In the spirit of years’ resolutions, we’ll take the examples of goals for this, seeing as that’s basically what I had.

I had several goals this past semester, this past year, these past days, to reach a point regarding a matter rather… important to me.  So, in pursuit of that goal or that point that I saw as success, I kept hacking away at this wall of things that stood in the way of reaching that place.  As it turned out, well… the wall was much more solid than I imagined, and what had been envisioned as success rapidly turned into a nightmarish attempt to reach the other side.

I was left angry and bitter at my failure, and as such, sought an outlet.  Several outlets, actually.  And after each outlet, I thought I saw a glimmer of the far side of the wall, perhaps closer again than in truth.  I started once more at the wall, again and again, until at last, I saw that my efforts were fruitless in the extreme.  So… I tried to leave the wall.

Did I succeed?  I’m not quite sure just yet.  The heart is an odd thing, and memory another.  To cherish the latter has often led to a great distress in the former, at least in my case, but still I do it.

Why do I tell you this?  Well, indulge a young fellow, but I put this out here because I’m hoping I’m wrong, in a way.  If what I speak of seems unclear, garbed in analogy as it is, I do apologize.  My emotions hamper what I say more effectively than the shouts of a thousand men.

There is a point where one’s emotion must bow to reason.  When one has tried over and over to reach something that perhaps (I say perhaps, as one has yet to see) is not beneficial to the soul, to the ultimate goal of reaching Heaven; when one has experienced a greater negative outcome than positive by that continued attempt… perhaps it is time to conclude that the hope was in fact flawed.

Hope is not flawed, hoping in something in which one should not however, is.  I have tried, time and again to reach what I saw as the greater good, per a promise I made.  I met the wall.  Efforts met with the blank silence that comes from futility.  Oh, there may have been a few sparks as I battered at it, but no true persevering light.  Of course, there is the possibility that I went about it the wrong way.  I am a swordsman, so let’s take that analogy.

The approach I took by the way of the sword left no truly visible mark on that impenetrable wall; indeed, it only led to the blade growing duller with every attempt, and at last, that blade which I thought would hold forever shattered.

Maybe I used the wrong tool, maybe the wall was never mine to break through, but I think that I ask the questions of myself too late.  I lost, in those terms, and hopefully I’ve won in others (heh, see below).

 

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My personal seal I made, which I realized too late was a bit stubby.  But I succeeded-ish!

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Took me a good five attempts to get that right.  First I did it reverse, then it was too shallow, then it wasn’t showing up so clearly in terms of width (the picture doesn’t show the final product, unfortunately), then  it was too shallow again, then finally I found the right look.

 

The lesson I hope to take from it, for everything must be learned from, is to know when to change course.  Steer the car another direction as it were.  This road I’ve walked or driven might have been good and right at one point, but… maybe it’s not the case anymore.

We all have to face things like that at some point in our lives.  It’s kind of a downer, but it’s true.  The thing is, we must pray that we have the grace to know when to live with the consequences… and move forward (bit of Flash there for ya) from what we once thought was right for us.  That’s not to say it won’t ever be in the future… but at the moment… let it pass, into the west (them LoTR feels).

And also:

“Things end… that’s all.  Everything ends, and it’s always sad.  But everything begins again too… and that’s always happy.  Be happy.” – The Doctor

-M

The Paths We Choose… – Abide Pt. 12 Finale

How do you start the day? You wake up, maybe shower, get dressed in a desired set of clothes, and then kind of just begin, right? The point is, there’s a certain preparation involved there. A time before you truly move and go out to face the day. All in this world had a beginning, and all will have an end. Maybe not the most pleasant thought, but then of course, if nothing ever ended, nothing would ever get started.

Of course, that begs the question, what started all those movements? What or Who is the first mover? Because we all had to have come from somewhere, tracing lines back and oh so further back until nothing remained, no time, no space, just Him. Because no mere thing could have started us at the beginning, no accident could have led to our lives, there’s too much order there to claim happy accident. To everything, there is a purpose and path that it follows… and that includes us, my dear friends.

May I just say, before I launch into the end of this, that it is my honor and privilege to have you read about the things I experienced during this journey, as with every journey. It’s given me a unique opportunity to share, and also to recount, that I myself may never forget. I hope never to forget, because this was one of my many beginnings, a mark across my life.

I was outside, having dressed rather hurriedly, hoping to see the last sunrise of retreat. I missed it by a bit, but the sun was still calling me. I stood out there, looking heavenward, and who should have been preordained to arrive, but one of the core team, Megan. She asked me how my week had been and whether I’d found a theme, and normally, I would have said a simple, “Oh, it was good, and yes.” without much elaboration beyond that basic thought, but this time, I decided to share.

So I told her what had happened in a rather overarching idea that ended with the theme: joy in the suffering. That was my gift from God, that I would experience suffering in the time I could physically see Him, so that when I would eventually feel alone and in pain in the future, I would remember His presence. I would remember that He had not abandoned me then, and He would not abandon me now in time of distress.

I think I stunned her a bit with my uncharacteristically blunt honesty, but we didn’t have much time to discuss it further. She was on her own mission, and I was on my own way. I prayed the Angelus out there one more time (such a beautiful prayer it is, thank you Eagle Eye), and then headed inside.  I found my friends seated, as with previous days, waiting. Father Michael Mary arrived, he blessed the food, and we went in for breakfast.

Our morning keynote, our last keynote, spoke of our purpose, how each of us has our part in a greater story; greater perhaps, than we could have imagined. Case in point: Frodo and the his quest to destroy the Ring. He never saw the great movements he inspired by his self sacrifice, only heard tell of them in the aftermath. We never know what our part is in the grand scheme of things, but we can be assured of greatness; perhaps not of the kind that brings a dark lord’s kingdom crashing down as the earth quakes and enemies are reduced to ashes, but a kind that saves souls, returning them to the Lord’s own great and wondrous light. Our true calling.

We had final parish meetings all around, speaking of what was next for us. I managed to talk with my youth group leader before Mass, and he promised to reconnect the following week, to set me on my path during my college years. Then, at the conclusion of Mass, with all our families gathered, the farewells began: pictures, luggage grabbing, and goodbyes between old and new friends. While this was happening, I found myself speaking to Father Michael on the subject of spiritual direction, having already begun the movement that Matthew, Sister Rose, and Brad had all recommended to me.

As I talked with Father about this question on vocations I was having, I saw many of my friends walking out the doors, and I was aware that for many, it would be the last time I would see them for a long while, if ever again. Part of me wanted to go and rush to say farewell before it was too late, but I stayed rooted, listening and paying attention to what might well have set in motion the next stage of my life. That decision might well have seen to what I became next; my internal promise to obey Him, no matter what the cost.

Because in the end, it’s not up to me to decide that oh so tricky thing called fate. My path was seen long ago and far ahead, known and prepared by the One who made me. And no matter how many friends leave or sorrows I face, I must remember that something greater lies ahead. A greatness that I will understand at the end… the end which is a new beginning.

– M

Calm Amidst Chaos – Abide Pt. 11

Joyful. Laughing. Actually breathing life in.

That was me when we got back to MSJU, and my friends on the bus saw it. Some of them were asking whether I was okay, I remember that much. I think what happened next was a quick move to small groups, because that’s the only way it makes sense in my head. DJ led us out to the furthest reaches and into one of the buildings, but as it turned out, they were closing for the night, so we ended up getting kicked out. Not a bad thing, simply requiring a reconvening which we managed with some semblance of grace.

As luck would have it, we ended up in one of the main hallways, sitting back against the walls and trying to speak with a level of normality that we wouldn’t otherwise have had, had the situation not required it. As such, we were rather out of it, finding even the most undeserving thing hilarious, though everyone’s story was quite a joy to hear. I can’t really write about what the others experienced, for in truth I was too far gone to really take note of everyone’s Nightfever, but it was an opportunity to just be.

Small groups ended (though we ran overtime) and we staggered out into the lounge area to acquire what was left of the food before staff took it away. I had a lemon meringue… thing. Cake piece. Not really important in the grand scheme of things, but it was good. I talked to my friend briefly, had some cake with her, and it was a good time. I don’t recall what we said, but then, when capture the flag happens, you can’t help but be distracted. I was on purple team/bus 1, but the game was not to be for me. In one of my earlier posts, I spoke of Sister Rose’s talk, and how her work with me that day was not over. This was it.

So, after telling my friend some of what Matthew had spoken to me about, I left her for the game in the darkness. We found the boundaries, scattered to hide our flags, and then went all for it, I cleverly concealing myself in the night… actually not that cleverly, it was probably cheating, but I concealed my purple glowstick wristband or whatever on my wrist with my other hand, boldly walking straight over the line in search of the flag. Nobody stopped me, or perhaps nobody thought I was playing, because I didn’t run, shout, or do anything any of the normal players did, I was just… there. A silent shadow.

Now, I could have helped win that game, but I saw the Sisters sitting on the wall, talking with some of the participants and prisoners of the early game chases. Sister Rose in turn spotted me, and asked whether I wanted to talk then and there. I agreed readily, and we took perhaps two or three turns about the grounds, pacing the stone paths, occasionally watching the madness ensuing all around us, but never quite touching us. I thought it was rather symbolic of something, but as it is, I’m not quite sure what just yet.

So we spoke, I sharing the warring natures within: the tug of priesthood on my heart, and the desire for my friend’s love and companionship. I pointed her out to Sister, though I was sure it was already known of whom I was speaking. I’m rather obvious like that, bad habit. It was a hard talk, because, well… she agreed with me.

I already knew from examples that I needed to keep a certain distance during my pursuit, and Sister shared with me her own story about a good friend who became a priest; not that she was ever attracted to him, but his wrestling with that decision of which vocation to pursue was apparently reminiscent of my own.  On the same note, she told me of the many women that are heartbroken when those men that they are close to leave for seminary and the priestly life. I felt rather terrible, even though I already knew that fact, thinking of the many times I failed to keep the friendship balanced between me and my friend.

Still, as our conversation progressed, I confessed that very fear of failure and uncertainty in this time of transition, the Spirit ever prompting me during this moment of collected thought. She promised to pray for me, that I would come to know God’s plan for my life, and, if that be in the order of priesthood, that I would serve as He desired me to.

Perhaps the most important thing she told all night was that she saw that I needed guidance. Guidance in the form of a spiritual director. That was the second time that evening that I’d heard that. Matthew too had spoken of how he saw that I was at a point where I needed one to continue to grow in my faith life. A prompting by the Spirit, perhaps?

Yet here I am now, long after that night and just starting college, ever searching. I can only hope to do everything in my power to find the one whom I need to aid me, and then trust in God’s time and plan. Because it was there on that last night – that dark and lonely, terribly yet wondrously powerful night – that I knew it was time.
Time to begin setting aside the younger, brasher, fellow that I was, and move ever onward.
Onward, towards the beginning.

TBC – M

Nightfever: A Good Man (Internal) – Abide Pt. 10.5

Despondent.

That was me during the latter half of the night and during a part of the bus ride.  You’d think the best place to find God is when He’s there right before your eyes, but no, this time, it was in the Spirit’s movement through good men.  I shall speak of the impact of two souls here: Matthew’s, and Robbie’s.

As Nightfever concluded, I ended up boarding the bus after a time of wandering cleaning, my spirit bogged down in ways that were not wholly earned.  A pain that felt like I had no right to own.  I lacked a worthiness for suffering, if that makes sense.

I sat in the back, thinking to avoid everyone and just try to rest.  As God would have it, I didn’t end up alone.  Matthew, someone who I barely knew, ended up sitting next to me, there in the back of that old bus.  We could have sat there and ignored one another, or maybe even joined in with some of the uproarious singing, but no, we were blessed with something greater: letting the Spirit speak.

He initiated the conversation, and I reluctantly shared what had happened during NightFever.  When I met the man, Robbie, and heard about his life, I remember an internal pain cutting me deeply, the kind that hunts out every gift and sees that there are worthier man who should have had as much if not more.  Robbie has a family, and a life filled with loss and pain, things that I won’t go into detail here because it’s not my story to tell.  He has faced so much, and still he continues on.  Before he left St. Louis church, he told me and Pablo that each day was a struggle, his own hope for the future fading.  That knowledge… it… it broke something in me.

I have so much in earthly goods, and yet I complain about lacking, of struggling, when in truth it is he who struggles with a darker, more painful reality.  A reality that I could never dream of experiencing, let alone surviving day in and day out.  I wanted to understand, to truly empathize, to feel his suffering, and all I could do was stand by, unable to help in any way more than prayer.  And even then, when I tried to pray, I could only picture a pain in the soul, a very self-centered pain.

I wanted to take his burdens onto my own shoulders, not in a good and holy way of dying to myself to live for him, but a disordered desire to escape my own pains in life.  To forget both my own sufferings and joys.  Forget myself and throw aside the gifts that God had given me.  Pain found in trying to heal someone, and there my own hope was brought low.  Yet this man, this brave soul, he fights on.  And as I saw him off into the night, part of me remained with him, and him with me.

Compassionate.  That was what God, speaking through Matthew, told me I was.  In my effort to help and heal the hopeless, He allowed me to share in the suffering, and as such, draw closer to His Divine Love.  My compassion was what laid me low, bringing me to a place where I experienced pain in my desperate attempt to bring aid.  Full understanding of that man’s situation will never come, but that belief in me by our great God above, that was enough.  My own selfish desire to flee for my own sake evaporated.

I stopped running, turned, and I shared my own story, some of my darkest secrets, past and present, in an effort to bring them to light and let the Spirit heal them.  It was through my vulnerability that Matthew himself opened up to me about his life, and we saw greatness in one another, the truth of the living Christ steadfast.

I told him of the tug on my heart, pulling me to the priesthood; the image I’d received and the voice I’d heard that week; and of her, my lovely friend, who had helped me grow in so many ways, and as such, marked me evermore.

Marriage to the Church or marriage to a beautifully human wife… wonderful desires, and to me, each just about as equally hard to lay down as the other.  Matthew put it in perspective for me: “Either way, you could end up marrying her.”
I had to laugh at that, for it was true.  That was definitely a positive.
Devotion and service to the Church touches each person united in the Body of Christ, and that meant… well… there you have it.

As we were having this really, really intense conversation, I was vaguely aware of the noise levels climbing all around us.  As our talk drew to a close, I realized that everyone was experiencing His presence, and the Spirit was flowing through the sheer joy emanating from each person there.  They were singing so magnificently, led by Mike, and here I was laughing again, my entire form tingling as if energy was coursing through my veins.

My mind wasn’t clear and free of worry, but the foundations of my own hope and trust had been relaid.  I won’t forget Robbie or any of the people I met that night, and I pray that their faces will remain etched in my memory, for Christ was truly shown to me through each of them.
Jim, our main speaker, had asked us to find our theme for the week, and this was mine: Joy in the suffering.

TBC – M

Lives And Longing – Steubenville Main Campus 2 Pt. 5 or End

Moments of bravado, or perhaps the Spirit moving through me, instigating mad courage despite my body shaking, are what I live for.

You can’t really talk about the aftermath of Saturday night’s evening session in the same post as well… that night’s adoration.  The transition seems off in a way, and that’s hopefully rather understandable.  I walked out of there with the same blinky expression that is my usual experience after being in such an intense and profound atmosphere.
We had small group time, talking about how the Spirit moved in us during adoration, taking a moment to breathe in.  I can safely say that my words were mostly coherent, and this year I wasn’t laughing breathlessly, unable to talk or pray in a clear manner.  No, I was more in control (relatively speaking), yet also exultant in my clarity of mind.  Not an easy state for me to accomplish, I assure you.

When we broke from small groups, I took a walk to the chapel in the woods with Annie, my curiosity piqued by hearing that it wasn’t far.  The Portiuncula was the name, modeled after the chapel that Saint Francis himself restored.  Perhaps I should have been more in awe, but after coming out of that time of adoration, I confess, I was not yet entirely there.
I touched the stones of the walls and tried to focus on something, anything, but it wasn’t so successful.  I was being pulled away this time, so I broke from the group I found at the chapel and just wandered about like I usually do.  I did come back and wait for Annie and Connor, but it was quick, and then I was off to hit the showers.
I did manage to talk with Peter, which helped clear my head some more, but it was quick, and I was all for bed by that point.  It didn’t take much this second night, and suddenly I was falling into that odd oblivion that sleep is.

 

Waking up, realizing it was Sunday, heading for breakfast, all of that was over in a blur.  I acquired my food alongside Kevin, and we made our way to the statue before seating ourselves with our eyes to the rising sun, Saint Francis at our backs, waiting.
It didn’t take long for some of the girls to join us from… wherever they came from… but the point is, we enjoyed a nice, leisurely – MORNING SESSION.

To abruptly cut to the chase, thirsting for greatness is part of our human nature; desiring something beyond the finite found in our everyday lives.  As Catholics, we need to understand that we seek Him who first sought us out, and prayer is that encounter of God’s thirst with ours.
So… going back to what I wrote in the beginning of this part, I knew the Spirit was moving in me, asking me to rise to the occasion.  Last night was an understanding where God and I met, and this time, it was a pull forwards from where I was.  The specific instance I am speaking of occurred at the end of Mass, actually.  The Bishop of Steubenville called up those discerning priesthood and religious life, and suddenly I was standing.

It wasn’t easy, walking past her to receive that blessing for my discernment.  Goodness knows, it probably came as a shock considering, but I didn’t have time to explain in that moment.  My shaking knees carried me through the row and around my friends as the thunderous applause started.  Potential future sisters, brothers, and priests drew near to the sanctuary with me, and despite my heart going rapid fire in my chest, I managed a smile as I looked around.  All of them were my family, and they would be with me in the years to come, in the great trial.  As iron sharpens iron…
If it had been me alone, I wouldn’t have found the courage, but as it was, several of my Saint Gertrude brothers and sisters were beside me, standing and facing the altar, facing their futures.

There are always those chance meetings that we often think aren’t happenstance, and I think it was especially true of my final meeting with Sister Kareen, from Eagle Eye, there at Steubenville.  Flash forward to the end of all leaving preparation, and there I was under the blazing sun, talking with her.  I shared my story and my desire to learn more about the call to priesthood, and she just happened to have a pamphlet on Saint John Paul II’s House of Discernment in a folder to give to me.  I doubt that’s a coincidence.  I don’t know if that’s where I’m pulled, or where the path ends, quite obviously.  There’s a whole lot of future left to unfold, and there are people out there that I have yet to meet who will undoubtedly change the course of my life and continue to point me onward towards the next chapter.  And that’s a mouthful to say.

To end, I wish I could say that I was as certain as I was then, but honestly, the intervening time has already begun to change who I am all over again.  I have become more sure of many things, yet even more doubtful in others.  I’ve talked it over with so many people, had some encounters that I’ll continue to write about, and yet… it remains forever a curiosity, as I suppose it should.  I, being a man, am drawn to mystery, to wondering, that leads to that question, leading ever onward towards finding God Himself.  And still perhaps that inner pain… that longing… is good.  It’s quite possibly exactly what I need to keep onward towards my true vocation, and it can be encompassed in that single, intricate yet simple word: Thirst.

-M

To the Source and Summit – Steubenville Main Campus 2 Pt. 4

After that last talk, I walked down the hill ahead of my friends because I was pondering things, like you do when you’re confused.  One of them had commented on priesthood as it related to the talk in some statement I can hardly remember, but what I do recall is that I suddenly felt off as she sounded so sure that I wasn’t discerning that life.  It was a bit of a situation, and I had no good response as she spotted the bemused expression on my face, so I vanished rather hurriedly.  I hadn’t said anything to her about my Eagle Eye experiences yet (I intended to of course, in short order), but it came as a bit of a shock to the system.

Dinner was the next movement on the strings as time moved past the afternoon’s workshops.  I made my way through the dinner line, got my food, and ate in the shade of a tree just outside the cafeteria.  St. Gertrude, clad in our gray “God Thirsts” shirts had formed up into two groups flanking either side of the road leading to the statue.
I ate rather speedily because I was keen on joining my fellow men in a venture to the gift shop or just the Saint Francis statue.  Wherever our feet took us.  We got back together in time for small groups, and had our usual circle for it.  As a lot of what was said addressed in the workshops we went to, there’s not too much point rehashing here.

Evening session started, and here’s where we got to that point.  I remembered it from last year and I remember it now.  The excitement, the awe… and yet I had to set it aside…
Why?  I ran the risk of falling into the old expectations, preventing the Holy Spirit from choosing to work through me in new ways.
Did He?  Yes.  I can say that with certainty, He did.  Perhaps not the way I expected or would have liked, with the clearest voice… but He was there.  Present.  And I could see Him.  We looked at one another, and we had an understanding.  It’s times like those where you don’t need to speak.  I remembered my frustrations, my anger, my fears… and I let them go, if only for that hour of adoration with a thousand or so of my brethren.  Every breath was peace, and my thoughts turned back to Eagle Eye.  I’m open to the call.
That was my promise then and now.
Every failure in my past, present, and future, that might have prevented me was tossed aside with the force of a tidal wave.  I relaxed, and existed, facing the Creator of the World.
And it was in that peace that I remembered my family, wondering and praying that they would feel the same contentment that I did in those moments.  I never asked them, and perhaps I’ll never know, but it was on my mind during that time.

I wasn’t quick to my feet, that’s not me.  When they asked us to stand, claim, and publicly profess our faith, I sat there in contemplation as my companions stood.  I was late, my thoughts directed towards yearning for yearning itself, if that makes sense.
I wanted to truly thirst, and it was only when I was sure that I had that thirst that I finally rose.  This is the truth of the matter, that to find Christ, we must first be longing, thirsting, dying for something greater.  He is the answer to the ultimate question placed in the very depths of our hearts.
So, if anything would be taken from that experience, I say be open to His work… and live.

TBC – M