As I continue to discern whether God is calling me to be ordained or not, I have come up with an analogy that describes my current disposition: I am like a potential parent that says, “I want to have a child… but only if it’s a boy.”
Like the would-be parent who is comfortable with the possibility of having a catch with his son or teaching him how to ride a bike, I have taken the big step forward over the past two years in acknowledging that there are some aspects of “being a father” that are appealing enough to me to take on the new role. Back in August, I mentioned that the sacrament of Reconciliation was one of these aspects. Besides that, I’m feel a strong calling to get involved in social justice activism (such as the ones run by our activist organization, JPIC), a ministry that needs the sacraments to remain fruitful. In this way, like the potential parent, I am very open to some of the roles a “father” might have to fulfill.
The problem with this sentiment is that it is not open to the all of the possibilities one may face. What if it’s a girl? Mentally handicapped? Doesn’t like baseball? Like the parent, there are aspects of ordination of which I am unwilling to accept at this point in my formation. What if I were assigned to an upper-middle class suburban parish so removed from poverty and hardship that it became difficult not to fall into complacency? Or, what if I were made pastor of a one-priest church, required to take on large amounts of administrative duties and left tied down to one particular schedule and place? These are among the many hypothetical situations (along with a few theological issues that I won’t mention here) that leave me saying, “Yes, but under my conditions.”
Like a potential parent, I don’t think this is the proper disposition one can have to take on such a role. To be ordained is to say “yes” without condition, open and prepared for anything the kingdom of God needs here on earth. It means being a malleable instrument for which God can use whenever and however he pleases. To do so with conditions would be to misunderstand the role entirely; “yes, but under my conditions” is not really a “yes” at all.
As I move forward, this will be the focus of my discernment. Can I be open to all of the possibilities for which God will use me? I’ve certainly come a long way over the past few years in accepting new possibilities, and will just have to see how far that goes. I continue to thank you for all of your prayers in this process.