The fork in the road
I don’t know how many people are still out there reading these blog posts… Well regardless, I’ve decided today to resurrect my old blog! During a conference a few years ago, I remember meeting the popular Catholic blogger, Mark Shea and asking him some advice on how to run a blog. And his main words of wisdom were “publish or perish.” How wonderful it is then that as Catholics, we are a resurrection people and anything, including blogs can be brought back to life.
Lots has happened since my last post from the monastery. Last year, in particular, I took a year away from the seminary to discern the priesthood within a specific community called the “Emmanuel Community”. I’ll be posting more and more about this community as I learn more about it because, in spite of my few protestations, Jesus has made it quite clear during this year, and even more so in the weeks and months following it, that it is here that I am being called. This has then led me on a gigantic roller coaster ride of a summer that has seen me, among other things, parting ways with my beloved Vancouver diocese for the diocese of Quebec City. Yups… It looks like I’m officially a seminarian in French Canada! Heureusement, je peux parler français! (Thankfully, I speak French). This summer has also seen me flying to and fro as I’ve moved from Namur, where I spent my discernment year, to Quebec City in the parish of the Emmanuel Community, to Vancouver for a bit of a vacation and back to Quebec City, where I currently am. I cannot give that much information regarding the year I went through for the simple reason that I don’t want to spoil it for anyone considering taking a discernment year with the Community. Suffice it to say that though the year was perhaps the most difficult and challenging year I ever had, it was difficult and challenging only because I was placed face to face with both the real and true radicality of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and my insufficiency to live up to this Gospel on my own. It’s a year where I came face to face with myself with all my strengths and, most especially inadequacies and conquer and surpass them. Thankfully, I didn’t have to do it alone. If there’s one piece of advice I can give to anyone thinking of doing a discernment year with the Emmanuel Community or any other community or diocese, it’s to LIVE THAT YEAR WITH JESUS. Spend a lot of time in prayer, if possible, before the Blessed Sacrament! And remember that vocation, as mysterious as it is, is something God wants to disclose to you in the end… It won’t remain a mystery forever! But it’ll be revealed in His time, not yours… perhaps when He knows you’re ready for it. More on this abandon to the will of God later.
The biggest up and down journey of the summer though revolved around the question of where I would be continuing my studies. You see, all priests of the Emmanuel Community are, ultimately diocesan… not religious. That means that the person ultimately in charge of them is not a religious superior like in the Franciscans or Dominicans OR an abbot like the Cistercians or Benedictines but rather a bishop. At the end of the day, I still am looking at the diocesan priesthood… but one with a few more quirks. One of these is that, though it’ll always be the bishop with the final say as to my future, he does so in dialogue with the leadership of the Emmanuel Community… and the dialogue regarding my place of formation took place until yesterday, the day I left Vancouver. It’s been kinda funny in the days leading up to my flight telling people who asked that I had no idea where I was finally going. When we booked the return flight from Belgium to Quebec to Vancouver, we did so knowing fully well that I could end up in either of two places of formation – Quebec and Namur. So I was to have a short stopover in Quebec City, for at least a day to allow me to pick up all my luggage in case I wouldn’t be taking the next flight. Now, we all know (I hope) how mysterious and adventurous God is and how He always works in His own time, according to His schedule, not ours. Well, He had a bit of fun with me as throughout the entire summer, until the moment my plane touched down yesterday in Montreal, He didn’t tell me where I would be studying. It’s not easy packing one’s bags without knowing whether winter this year will be a chilly -5 degrees C or a frigid -40! But it’s a wonderful invitation to trust… An ultimately, that’s always how God works! Life with Him is an adventure, every step of the way… it’s a story waiting to unfold between us characters and the best story teller in the world – and one who cares deeply for each of His characters… one who, in the words of Pope Francis, loves to surprise us!
So I am going to Belgium. I don’t know for how much of my studies I’ll be there… the details are still being worked through but at least I now know the next step! I will be taking that next flight tomorrow and I will be blogging, with definitely greater regularity than the once every 2 years that I’ve done so far, from the beautiful city of Namur. Thanks once more for all the help, prayers and support you guys have given me throughout the year and God bless! I hope to post again soon!