Monday, February 27, 2006

My own experience with the virtues of St. Joseph

Then the LORD said, "Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by." A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains and crushing rocks before the LORD--but the LORD was not in the wind.

After the wind there was an earthquake--but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was fire--but the LORD was not in the fire.

After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave. A voice said to him, "Elijah, why are you here?"
1 Kings 19:11-13

All my life I wanted to be a priest. It really was all I had ever intended to do. I even enrolled in the seminary. For me the priesthood was in the whirlwind. It was the earthquake and the fire. But it was not the voice of God in the whispering wind.

What on earth does the above have to do with St. Joseph? It has to do with his particular Fidelity to Grace and Interior Life. In God's mercy and wisdom my prayers were never, "make me a priest." My prayers were, "Tell me where to go." I, of course being human and very smart, knew that meant the priesthood. God, of course being much smarter, knew otherwise.

But how do you tell a human what you know? It is a problem we face with each other all the time.

God did it by a whisper. An insistent whisper; A continual whisper that was always in the fire and the earthquake; A whisper that St. Joseph helped me to hear. He helped me be faithful to Grace by leading me to an interior life focused on God.

Following these two virtues led me to many years of saying to myself, "ok...not a priest. Do not do the seminary. Go to Penn state."

ok..Penn State is done. Family things have happened that I am glad I was here for those. I've dated, I've lived. There is still the earthquake. Still the fire. Still...Still the whisper.

Now, I'm not being kind saintly Mr. great guy during all of this. There are times when I want to say, "Shut up...tell me clearly or leave me alone." And there are times when I do what I know I should not. But God gets you back on track and does not let one or two wrong turns derail His plan.

So maybe God wanted me to experience life so I would be a better priest. Still, not it.

I'm in the right place at the right time to give aid during family illnesses and deaths. And there where some friends need me, where I would not have been. God lets me see this to comfort me in my weakness. And St. Joseph helps me be faithful to God's plan and focus on God.

So I call to set up the phone in a new apartment. The lady asks, "do you want an unlisted number?" I want to say yes, but something makes me say no.

Later a friend from college calls. He found my number. He wants me to come to an Amway meeting. I don't like Amway. But I think, ok...why not. He does his pitch and I listen. His girlfriend knows someone that she goes to school with and after a few weeks of hanging out, I meet her. I've dated alot at this point. I've met alot of people in the 7 years since high school.

I see her and the earthquake stops. The fire and the whirlwind stop. And in my heart there is only the whisper, but now it is not is a clear voice (Everyone, I'm not actually hearing voices...just want to say that :)).

Four years or so later that girl and I are married. Six years later, we've been married for two years. I could never have navigated the hundreds of twists and turns to get to her. God could have said, "Hey Dave...get to this point and be this person." I would have messed that up big-time if I had known where to end up.

I would not have known where to start. So many decisions made that sent me down one road or another. Things that happened that made me a different person than what I thought I'd be. But turns I didn't understand and sufferings I had cursed, put me in a place and a time as a man who was the person needed for this marriage.

A resounding affirmation: I am not the potter, I am the potter's clay.

And what did God make of the clay that thought he knew his form. He made just what the Catholic Church needs, a member of the lay faithful educated in the details of his faith.

People ask me, "If Catholic priests could marry, would you become a priest?" At this point, I'd say no. I know what a priest needs to do. I know what a married man needs to do. I am not a person who can do them both: Not to the level I believe God wants me to.

All I know is: Thank you St. Joseph for helping me to find the will of God by imitating your virtues. And thank you Mom for giving me a St. Joseph's day card when I was five.


Deacon John said...

Try the Diaconate! I'm married & ordained Too!!! Just make sure your wife approves . . . Thank you St. Joseph, the quiet One . . ., who has guided me in my journey . . . to see Jesus & Mary.

DavidNic said...

Yes indeed. I've thought about the Diaconate once my wife and I are settled into wherever we buy a house and start a family in the future.

I may end up asking you some questions in the future.

Deacon John said...

I'm another Deacon John who says "Marriages are made in Heaven!" "What God brings together, let no man tear apart!" The Diaconate is a strain on a marriage. The spouse must be fully involved in your ministry, not left at home. And finally, be prepared to suffer many trial and tribulations, especially if you ate orthodox and straight! I've been there and done that! Keep blogging! Check out my blog at:

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