Reflections from a week in Northern Minnesota

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I'm back from a relaxing week in Northern Minnesota, and during that week I was able to find time to read a couple of books, and one of those was Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, a work by my favorite Christian apologetic, and a book I highly recommend that all of you read if you haven't already. In this books, Lewis expresses the core dogma of Christianity in a modern easy-to-read style, and the insights he includes in the book are amazing!
Anyway, while I was on vacation last week, I was informed of a great tragedy that occurred not far at all from the college campus I live on. a heavily used roadway, the I-35W bridge, collapsed into the mighty Mississippi River, claiming the lives of as many as 13 people. My first thought was for the safety of my family and friends who may have been on that bridge, but thankfully no one I know was involved in that bridge collapse. My second thought was to the finiteness of life, how we never really know how much time we have on earth, and how we should always strive to do the best we can to do God's will on this earth with the small amount of time allotted to us.
During that week, I was also able to spend some time with my immediate family, whom I don't see much of anymore, now that I primarily live on campus now at the University of St. Thomas. On one of those occasions, I was talking with my nearly-7-year-old sister, about how I had changed what I was studying in college, as I am now a Catholic Studies and Philosophy major. She must have wisdom beyond her years, because she asked me if I was going to become a priest, and I said yes. Amazingly, despite her young age, my youngest sibling understands better than my parents or relatives my calling to the priesthood. An experience like that is reassuring, and reinforces the notion that you are doing what God wishes you to do at this point in your life, and helps you perservere through the times when other people, or even yourself, question whether or not you're on the right path, or ridicule you for pursuing a religious vocation in a secular world.
Spending a week with an immediate family I don't see very often was nice, but already I am seeing signs that I don't fit in as well as I used to, and everytime I'm around them is a reminder of who I used to be, before I felt God's call to the priesthood. I've changed so much since feeling that call that reminiscing on those days makes me fell like I'm an old man reminiscing on his childhood. One of my favorite songs is a song called "Heirlooms" by Amy Grant, which speaks of a person looking a a family photo album, and reminiscing on who she used to be, and her family history, and how she has changed since sbe found Christ, and who she really was all along. The same thing has happened with me as with the person in the song. Science used to be my passion, and I was very enthusiastic about it. I wanted to be a doctor or a scientist when I grew up, and use science to help people. All that now, is history, but when I look at the bookshelf at my parents' house, I can still see the science books I read growing up. I'm a different person now, though. The ten-year-old science enthusiast has been replaced by the nearly-twenty-one-year-old Catholic Studies and Philosophy major, who is growing increasingly confident that the Lord is calling him to be a priest.
Perhaps some of you feel the same way when you look back on who you are now and who you used to be, and it's humbling to see how much Christ can change you if you let Him transform you into who you really are in His eyes.
This Saturday I will be attending a Jesuit Vow ceremony here in St. Paul, at the invitation of the Wisconsin Province Jesuits and the novices I met this past June, and I am excited. I look forward to seeing my Jesuit friends, and meeting fellow brothers in discernment at that event.
Please keep the victims of the Interstate 35-W bridge collapse in Minneapolis, and their families in your prayers. I didn't know any of the victims, but my relatives might, and the victims of this tragedy are our brothers and sisters in Christ, so I ask you to keep them in your prayers, as I keep them in mine.
May the Lord bless you in all your endeavors!

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