Today I went to a local parish which has Eucharistic Adoration every Tuesday, except when there is a fifth Tuesday in the month. Guess what... Yep, this is the 5th Tuesday of December. I am praying that one day our little town of Williamsport, PA, will have a Perpetual Adoration Chapel somewhere. If I am ever made pastor, my church will have Perpetual Adoration. That is my promise to our Lord and His Blessed Mother.
So, anyway, I had a nice time praying in this Church all decorated in Christmas splendor to honor our Lord's Incarnation. While I was praying, two lovely elderly ladies came in to make a visit. Before they left, they came over to me and introduced themselves. They, mother and daughter, are relatively new to the area. The mother is a member of the Church where we were praying. The daughter is a member of The Door, a congregation that protests Catholicism and much of Protestantism. She did not seem to share the disdain for Catholics I have encountered among many of their members.
In the course of our conversation, which included praises to God and a request that I pray for several situations in their family, the woman informed me that her husband had been a Franciscan priest for 30 years prior to their marriage. According to her, "He left one vocation for another. Now I am his vocation." Then she jokingly added, "And I am a full time vocation." She showed me pictures of her handsome grandson and his 3 adorable children, and one of her and her husband. I didn't say it, but he looked Franciscan. He still, even in a photo, had something of that spirit though he was now a member of or at least worships with an apostate group. Then they left, and I returned to prayer. I lifted up their intentions. God, of course, graciously heard.
But... there is always one of those with me ... I was disturbed by her comment that her husband's vocation was now full time to her. Is not every vocation to the Lord? She may not have meant that she usurped God in some way, but I wonder if she does somehow wonder.
I guess this is germane to me because 2009 was a year in which my vocation to the priesthood was severely tested. I was prevented from saying Mass and functioning as a priest from September 2008 until October 2009. The reason was, ostensibly, that I was in disobedience to my Bishop for refusing to take an assignment that would prevent me from caring for my now 95 year old grandmother despite the fact that I had a verbal agreement with the Bishop himself. Vicars, church politics and an ineffective style of leadership resulted in my unfortunate situation. It was not until I consulted and retained a Canon Lawyer that I was reinstated because there was, in fact, no basis for my dismissal.
Anyway, during that period of exile I was seriously questioning my priestly vocation. Was God trying to tell me something? Had I committed the sin of presumption by daring to pursue such a holy vocation? Was God punishing me? Was God testing me?
Could I endure the test?
Now, two months "back in the saddle" so to speak, I think there may have been a bit of punishment due to a laxity in personal prayer and for carrying a few grudges. That is now purged, thanks be to God! But the test... I think I passed the midterm exam. I have been given a renewed and deeper love for Christ and His Mother, as well as a renewed zeal for the priesthood, the sacramental life, preaching the Good News, the Rosary and for Corporeal and Spiritual works of mercy.
What about the final? Can I endure the test? With your prayers and the help of Mary and the Saints and Angels, I am most hopeful.