April 14, 2010

Anxious, but Happy

Posting has been slow lately, I know. Ever since this Boston College business became that much more real for me the other day, I have been preoccupied with all kinds of joys and worries. I noticed it especially when I had a hard time concentrating on the Office of Readings earlier this morning; my thoughts were racing so much that it took me three tries to get through the hymn Hic est dies verus Dei. I thank God for practices like Centering Prayer which have helped me to disidentify with thoughts and feelings and so not be overwhelmed at times like this. Yes, I am my thoughts and feelings, just as I am my body. But these do not exhaust who I am as God's creature.

On the one hand, I'm happy about the whole thing. The friars have asked me to go back to school, and since I have vowed to seek God's will for me in my obedience to the fraternity, I am confident that this is what the Holy Spirit desires for me right now. I also just feel good; transition always gives me this funny and giddy energy that makes me feel curiously alive.

On the other hand, though, I'm also very anxious. I don't have enough of a plan of what I'm going to do when I get there, or with whom. Topics for a dissertation--even giving shape to the word gives me a feeling of dread--roll around in my mind: Sermons of Lawrence of Brindisi? Victorine love and obedience? Religious life as eschatology? The Bonaventurianism of Benedict XVI? Debt paid or canceled on the Cross?

Other anxieties arise as well. Am I ready to go back into a fraternal and educational environment that is much more ideologically charged than life here at the parish? Here nobody bothers with the larger theological or ecclesiological implications of belief and practice. On the one hand, this can make for boredom, but it's also a very real freedom. If you feel like you should pray or offer Mass in a certain way, nobody uses it as a chance to dismiss you with some reducing label, nor does anyone confront you with questions like, 'Is that your idea of Church?' Am I ready for the penance of losing this freedom? Will I find my new environments tolerant?

Anyway, that's where I am today. I still have a couple of the "What's At Stake" posts in development, and I promise to get back to them.

6 comments:

Qualis Rex said...

Father Charles - I can definitely see the wheels at work chugging along your train of thought. Currently, you are the guide, mentor and spiritual father to so many who look to you. Giving that up to become a small fish in a big pond full of others who might not share your views or even have your well-being in mind is difficult (I think University life in general is penance, regardless of who you are...especially if it is a Jesuit University).

But leave the anxiety. Yes, people will be sad to see you go. yes, you will be sad to leave them. But as you said, you are allowing God to unfold his plan for you through the order. Trust in that. If you keep your eyes and heart open and put your best foot forward great things will come your way.

You might even be being groomed for leadership. Who knows?

ben in denver said...

I will continue to pray for you. I fear you are correct that it may be difficult for a lover of tradition to find a welcoming environment at BC. But as a church we desperately need more STDs and STLs who love our traditions and love our church and her manifold rites.

I agree with QR. There is a design here. I have no doubt you will pastor many souls in Boston, even if you are not involved in parish work.

Brother Charles said...

Thanks, friends. You're the best.

4narnia said...

hi Fr. C! i totally agree with QR and Ben. i will be one of many sad to see you go, but the Holy Spirit is definitely working in your life. just keep trusting in Him and you will do fine. you are a gentle, humble, inspiring person and, even though you won't be in parish work, you will minister to many souls just by your good example. hopefully, we'll see you at SH for special occasions and, i'm sure we'll always remain friends/brother & sister in the Lord. distance can never change that. you'll always remain in my prayers. this verse from Sacred Scripture comes to mind for you: So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. Cast all your worries on Him because He cares for you. ~1 Peter 5:6-7~ PAX! ~tara t~

finecrown said...

Don't worry about a dissertation. Think of it as a big stack of short papers (as a BA, you've already made one stack) which touch on elements of a unified idea. Think of those who had to use index cards and Smith Coronas!

Brother Charles said...

Thank you for the encouragement, finecrown! Indeed, I stand in awe of anyone who earned a post-secondary degree before the personal computer!