never mind the mainstream

Omis pointed out an interesting article in today’s Washington Post, “Hearing God's Call In Search for Happiness, Catholic Leaders Focus on Positive to Combat Drop in Priests and Nuns.”

It’s an interesting read, although I don’t know that the answer to the vocations “crisis” is hyped up media campaigns and a big recruitment push. We will never have the giant numbers entering that we had in the 50’s and 60’s, and I for one think that’s ok. However, I do think it’s important for people to know that yes, people still do this and yes, it can be a life-giving and joy-filled path.

I found this bit particularly interesting:

Church vocations officials use the word "discernment" to describe the process people go through in trying to tell whether God is calling them to veer away from the mainstream, saying it is as inexplicable as falling in love. But they also compare it to a dimmer switch cranking up a light or logs being stacked on a growing fire, saying it can take years, or even decades, before a candidate is ready to make the decision.

For me, it wasn’t even so much a dimmer switch as an automatic timer. It was as if God had a feeling I might not notice the gradually increasing light and so set the flood lights on an automatic timer. Then, one day, “click,” the lights turned on and I knew in my heart this is where God was calling me. And yes, it was entirely as inexplicable as falling in love. Kind of like that famous bit from Pedro Arupe:
"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of the bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything."

By the way, according to the article I fit the demographic of today’s vocations. “According to academics, the average American priest is ordained in his late thirties, and the age of women entering religious orders is rising as well, to the early thirties.” That’s me, early 30’s. And if it weren’t for God’s cranking up the light with the automatic timer, I think it would have taken even longer for the dimmer switch to grow to the level where I got the point.

I also like how the article frames the call as "veering away from the mainstream." That kind of gets at the wonderful counter-cultural element of religious life.


Paula said...

Susan i like very much that quote from Pedro Arrupe.I think that I am falling in love since a while...and i wonder where this love will lead me...it is a bit scary.

Christine said...

Thanks for linking to the story. what great timing, considering my upcoming "response"

seeking_something said...

Um, yes, perhaps there is a "shortage" of religious. But as one Sister put it to me: "How many does God need?"