The story so far... - my introduction

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Firstly, hello everyone, and thank you to Seminarian Matthew and Deo Juvante for letting me contributed to this blog. I feel quite honoured to be able to write in this environment which is dedicated to discerning a call to a "Holy Vocation" as a Priest or religious.

Background

A bit of background, then: I am 27 and work for the Police in Edinburgh, Scotland's capital. I am myself a convert to Roman Catholicism; though, having been schooled in Roman Catholic primary schools and being raised an Anglican the Catholic Church was very familiar to me, and thus being received into the Church was most movingly "coming Home" for me (as it is with many, it seems!).

It is difficult to put a finger on exactly when the "thoughts" and "feelings" of a "calling" began. I could point to a flirtation with monastic Hinduism in my early 20s; equally I could point to periods of deep solitude and searching in my teens, or when as a child I asked all the awkward questions that "grown-ups" never want to hear. Just as a formal conversion, such as my own, is only part of an ongoing "conversion of heart" that all Christians are called to, so too is the discernment of one's vocation an ongoing process of maturation:
"At any rate, there was no lightning-like moment of illumination when I realised I was meant to be a Priest. On the contrary, there was a long process of maturation, and the decision had to be thought through and constantly rewon. I couldn't date the decision, either" (Benedict XVI, The Salt of the Earth, p. 54).

Certainly, there has been a deepening of that question for "purpose". I simply can't believe God is calling me to be unfulfilled--therefore, there must be purpose to my journey so far in life. Living in an isolated monastery at 21 exposed me to another kind of life, clearly teaching me that there was an alternative, that some may specifically be called to. I stopped working for profiteering companies and joined the Police; my life was slowly transforming, yet I was not completely satisfied. I distinctly felt I was being called to do more, to give more. But what more?

A "Calling"?

It is difficult to separate out my vocation story from that of my conversion. I remember when Pope John Paul II passed away, I felt that I had lost "my" Pope, and questioned my allegiance to the Anglican Communion. At the same time I explored more about his life, his witness, and those of other amazing Priests. I began to recognise a true need within myself to have more to do with visible expressions of love, community, hope, and faith, and not number crunching with stats, performance indicators, and regulatory demands. I could articulate that 'something more' as a keen desire to follow the example of Jesus in my life, to serve others, and to make full use of all my gifts. And yet there was something more even than that, about being there for everyone, non-partisan, in the best of times and the worst of times, centering one's life around the Sacraments, and being "on duty" all the time, so to speak.

To cut a long story short, the exploration of those vocational questions about the Priesthood, lead me to realise that my understanding of the Priesthood, the Church, the sacraments--the whole "kit and kaboodle"--was fundamentally a Catholic one (and a proudly Catholic one!), and I was joyously received into the Catholic Church.

The road ahead

As a good Priest friend says, I am still in a period of just "being" in the faith, and in that respect it is early days. And yet, there is still a profound deep resonance when I try to articulated my deeper, wordless, longings and movings and end up pointing at holy Priests and saying "that's it!". It would be my intention to apply to the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh for entry to seminary in 2009, though having "fallen in love" with the aesthetic form and firm expression of theological reality given in the Traditional Latin Mass, I am also exploring the possibility of a Traditionalist Society of Apostolic Life, such as the FSSP.

The nature of the Catholic Priesthood is absolutely sacrificial; as Christ is Priest-victim, so too must our Priests be. It is an amazing commitment, or as Malachi calls it "terrible", and yet this most solemn of commitments is one I am comfortable exploring--in a way I feel I certainly "must" explore it!

I suppose in a way I do have "a lot to say", so I'd appreciate any questions readers might have to help me write about particular areas.

God bless you all, and thanks for reading!
Mark

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