Sifting For Wheat

With life’s busy churnings (and I use that word accurately both physically and spiritually) I haven’t taken any time with the pope’s visit and especially his addresses and homily. It’s good to know bloggers like Rock are doing the job for those of you who can attend. Or not attend and attend, if you catch my meaning.

It would probably do me good to refrain from the negative sites the next few days and try to catch a few authentic words. The bile can be overwhelming, and I have little hope I’m doing anything productive.

I will share something from my personal prayer, this passage from Job 30:

My dignity is borne off on the wind, and my welfare vanishes like a cloud. My frame takes no rest by night; my inward parts seethe and will not be stilled.

I’ve been doing some reading in Salesian spirituality, and the topic of death came up today with this as part of the reflection. I showed my wife and her eyebrows went up.

Death is the only thing of which we can be assured, comes the advice of Francis.

My current discernment has arrived and gotten a little past a crossroads. After twenty years in ministry, I was confronted with some serious choices and emotions connected with the Church, work outside the Church, ministry in it, and how to provide for a family in light of it all. And in light of all that, this reflection on death gives me a sobering reality that even as a husband and father and lay person, I can pretty much count on nothing of this world.

My dear wife, the optimist, seems convinced a life in the lower levels of the middle class is a comfortable enough place for all three of us. I couldn’t help but be distracted by a Job-like seething. It was far from still for me in the past several weeks. After exploring a few secular possibilities, I found work that wasn’t in any way economically advantaged over working for the Church. So I confess I was seething about the unfairness of it all.

Then I added in some very serendipitous signs: messages from friends here in the parish that included a very touching letter of recommendation, an e-mail from an old friend I helped through RCIA more than a decade ago, some very fruitful collaboration with a pair of college musicians, and a very prayerful Triduum with an unexpected thanks from the pastor.

When I visit a parish for prospective service, I like to go to Mass. Failing that, I pray in the nave and if I’ve been able to do that, I try to put on the parish like trying on a coat, and see how it fits. Sometimes I’m able to tell if I can move easily. It think it was some Ignatian discernment exercise: imagining oneself in a possible place as one notes and assesses one’s feelings, thoughts, and prayer about it.

So I accepted an offer to serve this parish, and while much of me can hardly wait to begin there, I’m hoping for a sense of stillness to settle in the busy weeks ahead. If I could write the ideal script, I’d sell a house, buy a new home and relocate in six or seven weeks. We’ll see.

The only things I know today is that our daughter is extremely excited about moving to Iowa. I know I can pray in this church. When I asked myself if I could imagine the staff and search committee being my new friends there, the answer was an easy “yes.”


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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7 Responses to Sifting For Wheat

  1. Patti says:

    You chose a University parish! How exciting for all of you. Congratulations!!

  2. Freder1ck says:

    Wow, good for you! All blessings in your new adventure.

  3. Todd: Thanks for sharing your plans with us. I hear the unsettledness of it all in what you wrote. I pray that you’ll be able to prepare room for the peace I trust this new place and work will bring you.

  4. Rob F. says:

    Best of luck Todd.

    I’m glad that you are still working in the Liturgy. I was afraid that with you in a new secular career, we’d lose one of the best liturgy blogs around.

    God bless you.

  5. crystal says:

    That looks like a great place to work! Iowa State has one of the best entomology depts., btw :)

  6. I am happy for you that you have found a place of work. I hope that you will be happy with your new work, and in your new home.

    While I would be curious as regards the reasons why your former pastor/church decided that your services were no longer necessary, I have found that wounds are seldom worth reopening, unless a chance of healing results.

    I would suspect that you have suffered more than your share of injustice in your last church’s actions, and that you have been a true man, and have refused to speak of that injustice. More power to you.

  7. FrMichael says:

    God bless you in your new ministry… or old ministry in a new venue.

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