First, let me begin with a disclaimer: there’s no onesizefitsall vocation story. For me, seminary was an easy sell by the time I graduated college. That’s right. No struggle, no relationship breakup, no “sign.” When I was in middle school, I had a powerful experience of God through praying the rosary for my ill grandmother, and ever since that time, I clung to Christ and his Church. The Church gave me so much: mystery and truth, healing and forgiveness, and most importantly, meaning and redemption amid all the anxieties of growing up. Why would I not want to give my life to this? Why would I not want to be the guy whose very life is devoted to the privilege of introducing Christ to others? So when I graduated college, I entered seminary. It was as simple as that. But thanks be to God, things got complicated as soon as I arrived at seminary. Those first few months, I remember being so confused as to what I had gotten myself into. I secretly hoped that one day my bed would be found unmade and I would be sent home for indecorum.
You see, once I entered seminary, everything changed between Christ and me. Prior to seminary, I was very comfortable with having Jesus as a guest in my house. Certainly, he was the most prominent guest. I gave him the best room, visited him often, tended to his every care. But when I came to seminary, Christ abruptly left his guest room and was pounding on the front door, demanding to be the master of my house. I was not ready for this. Christ’s knocking on my door came in the form of a question that seminary insistently asks: “Is Jesus Christ enough for me?” This question came in a variety of ways. When I arrived at seminary and discovered that my faith was no longer a private hobby but something I lived and shared amongst 100 other men who now called me brother, I had to ask myself, “Is Jesus Christ enough for me to share him with this community?” That first semester, when I brought the Eucharist to residents of a nursing home, I again had to ask, “Do I believe Jesus to be enough for these people, despite their mental or physical state? Do I believe that their lives are invested with great dignity because they belong to Christ?” In the classroom, my philosophy and theology professors challenged me to consider how I can credibly claim in the world that Christ is not just good for me but rather, he is the very answer to all human existence. Finally, in my daily prayer, I had to ask God sincerely that he would be enough for me, that he would help me meet all the demands of each day and overcome the insecurity of the future. What I found was that, as much as I clung to Christ, he clung to me more. I’ll never forget being on retreat one summer and reading John 17Jesus’ most intimate prayer to his Fatherin which we overhear Jesus say of us, “Father, they are your gift to me” (Jn 17: 24). This was news to me. In fact, it was good news! It was what I needed to trust Christ enough to let him into my life as master and Lord and to answer confidently that yes, Jesus Christ is enough for me.
A vocation story
January 27, 2016