June 15, 2009

Growing Up

Growing up in this life I had the blessing of a pretty much determined plan: Elementary school, middle school, high school, college. I was fortunate to have free choice about where to go to college, but what I was choosing was mostly details; the general idea was a given. When I graduated, at age 22, it was the first time I had to lay out a path for myself entirely on my own. The pre-arranged linear road had come to end, and I had to decide what to do next. Certainly this was nothing unusual; I imagine that most of my classmates were in the identical existential situation.

I decided that I wanted to be a Franciscan friar. With a few twists, turns, and detours it has all been downhill from there, and I'm very grateful.

Coming to religious life sets one upon a similar linear path of growing up. There are the stages of religious formation: aspirancy, postulancy, novitiate, temporary vows, perpetual vows. Of course there are free choices to be made within this structure, the most critical of which for me was discerning whether or not to declare myself a candidate for sacred Orders. But even this wasn't much of a choice for me. I didn't come to Franciscan life with any clear thought about whether or not I would be a lay friar or a priest friar; all I knew at that point was that I wanted to be a Franciscan. When I did declare myself willing to be ordained if the Order and the Church thought it a good idea, it was more of a consent to what was emerging in my life than a choice.

Recently I feel as though I have arrived at the point in my relgious life parallel to my life in general when I was 22. Thus far my religious life has been arranged for me. The formation program was laid out for us. We were sent to a certain school. When I was done with school, I was assigned to the ministry and fraternal life I have now, no questions asked, no questions needed.

But now I've come to a point where the conversations about what comes next are starting to happen, and I realize that a lot of this is in my hands. All of a sudden I have a responsibility for my own destiny that I have experienced before, but not for a while. It drives me to prayer, signifiying that is a healthy challenge. So pray for me, that I seek and listen to the advice of the right brothers and sisters, and embrace the freedom the Holy Spirit seems to be trying to give me.

13 comments:

Karinann said...

Br. Charles,
I will certainly keep you in my prayers. I do a Holy Hour for priests each Thursday evening. I will remember you in a special way this Thurs.
God Bless!

Brother Charles said...

Thank you for your prayers and the good example of your charity!

Adoro said...

Prayers, Father, and I can totally relate! (Well, kinda-sorta anyway!)

I'll be spending some time in the chapel this morning and will be praying for you!

pennyante said...

FrC, you are indeed fortunate that you understand and can make connections as to how this process (the Spirit) is again at work in your life...

There is surely a huge element of trust that makes up the discernment you are undergoing.

May God bless and keep you. May the Spirit make the path clear enough for you to see it; and in seeing it, you can travel toward it with the answer that says, "YES"...

You know you are in my prayers and in the prayers of many of us, your friends...

Brother Charles said...

Thank you, Penny and Adoro. Oremus pro invicem!

Paul A. Zalonski said...

God writes with crooked lines. I've got a similar experience in forging path to serve the Lord that's not been as direct as I though it might be. For me it was first the Jesuits and now with seculars. Though there are days I do feel called to the fraternal life. At least for now I am placing myself at the feet of Mother Church to confirm a vocation to priesthood. How life shall be later is anyone's guess. That is, until it is revealed.

4narnia said...

of course i will (as always) keep you in prayer, Fr. C! my time at monthly adoration every first Saturday is always for the intentions of you and all of the Capuchin Friars in your Province of St. Mary and even for Capuchins all over the world. PEACE!

ben in denver said...

I will keep you in my prayers,

I was thinking about choices I've made since I came to believe 12 years ago this past Sunday. It seemed at the time that I was making decisions and making choices, but I can see now that what I was doing was choosing not to choose, and to let Him lead.

Since conversion, life is like a deluge. A new baby comes every couple of years, there are moves to new homes, neighborhoods and churches, the children grow and learn and change, and I just move to wherever the water pushes me.

Brother Charles said...

Thanks, Ben, for the baptismal image. I'll give you credit when I use it in a baptism homily!

blogmeister said...

This is a much more mature insight into "obedience" than those I had heard years ago. Taking an active role in deciding your future is not against obedience, but realizing that the "listening" that is central to obedience is done by all involved; not just the designated servants of the community. Interesting thoughts. Of course, now you know who makes the decisions for me ;-)

Brother Charles said...

Good to meet you, blogmeister! Stay obedient!

ben in denver said...

Now I have noticed that you placed a poll on your sidebar about where to go back to school!

Well I think that is a wonderful idea. I would go back to school myself if it were an option.

Are these the options you have? Which institution in Rome are you considering since it will surely be the winner of your poll? Angelicum? or Gregorian?

I'm currently reading "After Virtue" by Alisdair Macintyre, who is currently at Notre Dame, I believe. It might be exciing to learn from him.

But to be perfectly honest, if I could do anything I'd go see what Anthony Esolen, professor of English at Providence College in Rhode Island, could teach me.

What program of study are you thinking about?

Have you considered the Dominican House of Studies in DC as an option? They seem to have an excellent program.

For what it is worth (which is very little since I have not paid attention to these things in almost 10 years) I'd think twice before going to BC. My master's thesis director went to BC, and although he was a very intelligent man, he was not a man of faith and lacked wisdom.

Please pray for him, his name is Mitchell.

Brother Charles said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Ben. Which of the Roman universities we might be talking about is a very gray area right now.