Wednesday, January 21, 2015

VessElS, HiPStErS, and MYSTERy

A past parishioner of mine---what an interesting use of verbiage; almost as if to convey that I'm talking about several decades back when I've only been a priest for 3 years now! ha ha --- is a wonderful writer. Yes, Dena, I'm talking about you. I've never done a post in response or commenting on another
other blog/article entry...so here it goes...oh, and don't worry, it's all positive. :)

Yes, I would agree with the Vessels article. There is as it were a reality of mystery and unknown that almost calls to the depths of who we are as humans. Almost as if "mystery" is calling out to the recesses of our hearts that are meant to be overtaken by "mystery-itself"...a cor ad cor loquitor of sorts.

You mention a few examples of vessels like small wooden boxes, "small paper packages tied up with string" (great reference by the way!), mailed hand-written letters, and real books; they are able to hide some thing and it is this unknown that draws us...that calls out to that part of us that desires to relish in a mystery that will be revealed. There's almost a relationship between the vessel and the reality within... as if the more vintage, authentically-made, or authentically-sincere a thing is, the more value  or more significant is the thing within...

There's this need to allow our souls to be independent of the confines and constructs of modernity to dive deeper to express, see and understand some thing. You know, there's been this Hipster lifestyle-movement-fad of sorts that seems to want to embrace this sense of mystery and or come back to something more authentically human; to go beyond the shallow confines and constructs of mainstream thought or work. Urban Dictionary defines a hipster as:
a subculture of men and women typically in their 20's and 30's that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter...Hipsters reject the culturally-ignorant attitudes of mainstream consumers, and are often be seen wearing vintage and thrift store inspired fashions...
Ok, grant it, the hipster doesn't talk about mystery in the same way as I did above, but if we just think about it for a bit, we begin to notice that there have been various movements throughout history in which the human person wants to dive deeper, understand and embrace the mystery of reality and the mystery of one's own self. Grant it, there are various ways the hipster lifestyle manifests itself; be it by acquiring vintage things like typewriters, going to artsy coffee shops, writing letters, brewing one's own beer, growing out beards, being unfashionably-fashionable with crazy socks, the hipster just wants to be authentic...

...and there is no greater authenticity found than within the source and font that gives meaning to all mysteries...namely, God.

Our Catholic practices can't be more vintagey. With all her Traditions, incensed ceremonies and rituals, candles and sacred vessels...we embrace the journey towards Mystery-Itself...the journey established by the apostles and the early Church.


Being Catholic, I'd argue, one can't help but be
 a hipster.



Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Call

 So I suppose one could say I've had a crazy last couple of weeks and or months. I haven't written much--or at all really. Ha! But I sure have had many thoughts running through my little brain. 

But I'll write a little on the diocesan youth conference we had this last weekend. I really had a great time being there with all the young people. I guess a part of me still hasn't grown up...maybe it's a Peter Pan complex or something, haha! Anyhow, getting to see the youth was affirming.

There was a giant beach ball I jumped on when no one was looking.  That was an epic fail as I fell onto the floor the first time. I nearly won the Ninja game against 15 teens. I snatched a teen from a crowd surfing moment (adult-leader's worst fear!) Saw some sick skills of art and talent.

But one of the things that stuck out to me was what we did at the end of the weekend. We had an altar call of sorts...well, more like a vocation call. I asked the young people to close their eyes and call upon the name of Jesus. The band quietly played Charlie Hall's  "Prepare the Way." I asked them just to sit there in the quiet, in the silence... 

And they sat there...and you can tell the Spirit was moving, moving in their hearts...in the quiet...

In the midst of this quiet, of the soft invocation of Jesus, I asked them to think about living for Christ, not just in the usual way we do as men and women, but in an extra special way. "There is a calling that God has for some people. I want you to think about living your lives for Christ as a priest or religious brother or sister"

...and I asked them to listen to see if there was an inkling, a nudge, a tinge of the possibility that they may be called....

And with their eyes still closed I told them that the most bravest thing they could do was to answer the call to live for Him; to look into it to see if this is what he wanted; to pursue it and to find out if this was his will...and so, with the silence thickening with God's grace, I asked those that were experiencing this internal movement to stand up...

and she stood up...and so did he...and then another and another...

"Now open your eyes"

And there they were...about 8 young people standing...and the teens were amazed to see some of their own peers standing...and I invited these young men and women forward...

I had the bishop pray over them...and after his prayer...I saw them with tears in their eyes... and in my heart, when I saw the young guys in tears looking at me, I couldn't help but get teary-eyed and say to myself, "...my brothers..."
To look at the young ladies and think, "...my sisters..."

Not knowing if priesthood would be it, not knowing if some of these young ladies would become religious sisters or not...and yet, feeling so encouraged that they at least opened up to the possibility of a call to religious life.

I told some of them, "It's a discernment. It's a process."

So they begin taking it one day at a time, focusing on what's most important, a relationship with the one and only Jesus. And I pray for them now...and ask you to do the same...to pray for our young people, that they may have the courage to look into the possibility of a vocation. That they may be graced with a strength to pursue it to see if this is what the Lord wants....

As priests and seminarians and religious, we can be kind of crazy, but we fully find ourselves when we embrace the Lord's will. Answering the call doesn't take anything away from us, but fulfills us.