Finding Peace and Direction

01-24-2021From the Pastor's DeskMsgr. Ellsworth R. Walden

One of the words we use to speak about who we are and what is do is “calling.” What is our calling in life? Sometimes the call comes from deep in our hearts. At other times it comes from other people. When I was studying for the priesthood, last four years I was “called” to different steps, the last being the call to be ordained a priest. The first call was in the first year of theology and was the call to the clerical state in a ceremony called tonsure. That was followed by the call to be officially a porter and a lector, where we knelt before the bishop and were ordained for those offices. In the early church, the porter was what we would call the maintenance man. I have done that countless times as a priest, unlocking and locking the doors, turning the lights on and off, and all the other simple things in the everyday operation of the church building. Following that we were called to exorcist and acolyte. Only very holy priests actually perform exorcisms, while acolyte is officially being an altar boy. Following that, we were called to be ordained a subdeacon, deacon, and finally a priest. Each time we got the call we went into the rector’s office and he said, “Congratulations, you have been called to this particular ministry.” But before we were called for each of these ministries (called “minor orders”) the faculty of the seminary voted us in. We were evaluated by them before we could go on each time.

In today’s Gospel (Mark 1:14-20) we see Jesus calling two sets of brothers to follow Him as His apostles: Peter and Andrew, James and John. What did Jesus see in them? What did they see in Him? Jesus calls each one of us to follow Him? What does He see in us? What do we see in Him? For most of us, our journey of faith began when our parents brought us as infants to be baptized. As we mature we receive our first Holy Communion, go to the Sacrament of Penance, and complete our full initiation into the Church through the Sacrament of Confirmation. That makes the journey of faith much more relevant and very dependent on our response. What does Jesus see in me? That is a good question to ponder. He sees into the depths of my heart, looking always through the eyes of unconditional love and life-giving mercy. As any parent or spouse, He looks at us with great hope, joy, and gratitude. The more we can see Him doing that, the stronger our faith becomes and the more peace and direction we have in our lives. We look to Him for hope, life, and the assurance that our lives have a meaning and purpose that only He can fulfill in us and guide us through.

The two sets of brothers in today’s Gospel dropped everything when Jesus called them to follow Him. Our biggest temptation at times is to drop Jesus from our consciousness and focus on someone or something else instead. While we do seek to put our heart and soul into whoever we are with and whatever we are doing, those who are intimately part of who we are never leaving our inner being. The gift of faith gives us the background and inner direction we need to live our lives fully and completely each day. We do call out to Jesus spontaneously at times when we are full of joy and when we are in a difficult and trying situation. His love, His presence in our minds and hearts gets us through our joys with gratitude and our trials with hope, courage, and consolation.

I offer Psalm 42 for your prayerful reflection. As you pray the words expressing your longing for God, think about His yearning for you.

Like the deer that yearns
for running streams,
so my soul is yearning
for you, my God.
My soul is thirsting for God,
the God of my life;
when can I enter and see
the face of God?
My tears have become my bread,
by night, by day,
as I hear it said all day long:
Where is your God?
These things will I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I would lead the rejoicing crowd
into the house of God,
amid cries of gladness and thanksgiving,
the throng wild with joy.
Why are you cast down, my soul,
why groan within me?
Hope in God; I will praise him still,
my savior and my God.
My soul is cast down within me
as I think of you,
from the country of Jordan and
Mount Hermon, from the Hill of Mizar.
Deep is calling on deep,
in the roar of waters;
your torrents and all your waves
swept over me.
By day the Lord will send
his loving-kindness;
by night I will sing to him,
praise the God of my life.
I will say to God, my rock:
Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning,
oppressed by the foe?
With cries that pierce me to the heart,
my enemies revile me,
saying to me all day long:
Where is your God?
Why are you cast down, my soul,
why groan within me?
Hope in God; I will praise him still,
my savior and my God.