Thursday, April 14, 2016

Called By Name: Father Michael

Enjoy this the final video in the Called By Name series from the Archdiocese, featuring Fr. Michael Schumacher of St. Martin of Tours in Vegreville and associated parishes

Thank you for sharing your inspiring story, Father Michael!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Called By Name: Father Matthew

Enjoy this latest video in the Called By Name series from the Archdiocese, featuring Fr. Matthew-Anthony Hysell of Corpus Christi Parish in Edmonton. Fr. Matthew is the first deaf person to be ordained a Roman Catholic priest in Canada.

Thank you for sharing your inspiring story, Father!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

When Jesus Asks Too Much

There comes a point in the journey of discernment when Jesus asks too much.

During her lifetime, Mother Theresa was known for never, ever complaining about her sufferings. No matter what she went through, she refused to complain to God or to others about what God asked of her. Although she endured spiritual darkness and desolation that would make most people's existential angst seem like a walk in the park, she resolved to "refuse God nothing" and always "to smile at God" -- which meant that no matter what she was feeling, she would do whatever God seemed to require of her -- with a smile.

However, at the end of her life, her physical health broke down, causing her suffering to become physical as well as spiritual. One day, lying on her sick bed in intense physical pain and interior anguish, she said in a whisper to one of her sisters: "Jesus is asking...too much."

She didn't scream or cry or get mad. She simply stated a fact: she had endured much, and this was too hard. Too hard, too much, for too long. He asks too much of me.  

I think that everyone who discerns a vocation to consecrated life faces a moment like this, a moment when Jesus asks too much. A moment when you just can't face the mystery and uncertainty of it anymore. A moment where Jesus calls again, saying, "Put out into the deep," and all you want to do is curl up and be safe. Jesus says, "Follow me in the darkness," and you say, "I've had enough." Jesus says, "Take up your cross," and you say, "It's too heavy." Jesus says, "My grace is enough; I am sufficient for you," and you say, "No! I want arms of flesh around me, and I want a voice I can hear to comfort me, and I want light for my path so I know what you want me to do. This mystery, this trust in the darkness, this cloud of unknowing -- it's too much."

The Too-Much Moment reminds me of the death of Jesus. When Mother Theresa whispered that Jesus was asking too much, I hear an echo of Jesus' cry of abandonment from the Cross. It is the only time during the whole horrific ordeal of torture and crucifixion when Jesus seems to complain, as though it has gone too far. Even when Jesus expresses that what He is experiencing is unbearable, God does not appear to respond. Jesus is left alone on the Cross.

I see a similar pattern in the Too-Much experiences of discernment, my own and those of others. Discernment requires so much trust and faith and patience, and involves so much mystery, darkness, and uncertainty, that eventually, even the strongest of us hit a wall. We want things to be clear. We want to understand where we are going. We want to know what God's plan for us is, once and for all. We want to know what the future holds, where He is calling us, and what it will be like. And yet, it seems like God just continues to ask us to trust, follow, and wait, even to embrace the darkness and the uncertainty of it all. And at times, this will just feel like too much.

And yet, when we remain faithful in these moments that are too much, even if we do so kicking and screaming, even if we just spend the night wrestling with God and saying, "I refuse to let go until You bless me" -- it is out of these times of darkness that our vocation will truly begin to emerge. When we have thrown in our lot with God and we remain with Him even when we feel He has asked too much, that is when the real growth, the real self-understanding, occurs.

I think of Mary Magdalene. All of The Twelve except John deserted Jesus in His Passion; she remained at the foot of the Cross. Undoubtedly, in that moment, she thought that God had asked too much of her. Here was the One in whom she had placed all her hope, the One with whom she had thrown in her lot, the One who gave her life meaning and purpose, the One she followed, the One she had staked her life on. And He was dying! Her faithfulness in that time must have cost her a great deal, more than we can know.

John's Gospel tells how she came alone to mourn at the tomb. And out of her Too-Much experience, Jesus comes and meets her, calls her by name, and gives her a clear mission: go and proclaim that I live! Her life is transformed in that encounter, which springs up from the darkness of the Crucifixion. Her purpose, her identity, her direction and mission are confirmed and clear; the light of the Resurrected Christ has flooded her life.

In the journey of discerning your vocation, you will probably experience a moment where it is all too much, because of the nature of discernment -- all the trust and faith and mystery is very hard. And don't be surprised if it happens during Lent. I would encourage you to remain faithful in that experience, whether you cry, mourn, wrestle, or just be in it. You don't have to like it. But remain faithful. Don't give up, because from the Too-Much moments will come forth the light and clarity and the understanding of God's will that you long for. Mary Magdalene remained with Jesus in the greatest of all darkness, and afterwards, she was the first person to see her life through the lens of the Resurrected Christ.

"I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches hidden in secret places, so that you may know that it is I, the Lord, the God of Israel, who call you by your name."
Isaiah 45:3

Mother Theresa's story is paraphrased from the book Mother Theresa: Come Be My Light, edited by Brain Kolodiejchuk, MC.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Called By Name: Father Marc

In this installment of the Called By Name series, Father Marc Cramer, vocation director for the Archdiocese of Edmonton, shares his own vocation story.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Quinn's Vocation Story

Recently, Abide talked discernment with Quinn, a 22-year-old U of A student. In this interview, Quinn shares about his discernment journey.

Abide: Tell us a bit about yourself.

Quinn: I am currently twenty-two years old, completing my Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Alberta with a major in Philosophy. I was originally studying for the diocesan priesthood, but am now discerning a call to a society of priests called the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), known primarily for celebrating the Tridentine Liturgy. God willing, I will enter the Fraternity next September.Growing up in Calgary, I was an active child and especially enjoyed going to the Rocky Mountains. My true passion, however, lay in the piano, to which I devoted myself for hours daily with the hope of becoming a concert artist. But God had other plans, redirecting my love for music to a love for Him.

Abide: Has your faith always played a big role in your life?

Quinn: Quite the opposite, actually. Throughout my pre-adulthood, the extent of my involvement in the Catholic faith was receiving the sacrament of baptism as an infant and going to Mass a few times with my relatives. The Catholic faith was merely a cultural aspect in my family, as I’m sure it is for many young people nowadays. That’s not to say that I wasn’t raised in a loving family that taught good values. I was always interested, nevertheless, in the meaning of life, and I sought out the truth. Even when I briefly adopted atheism as an adolescent, it was because I was looking for the truth, though misdirected, clearly. Through God’s Mercy, I converted back to Christianity just before my eighteenth birthday and my first year of university, and came back to the Catholic faith specifically soon after. I wish for all youth, especially those who doubt their faith as I had doubted, that they would turn to God with trust in His Mercy.

Abide: When did you first consider the possibility of a priestly vocation? Where are you at this point in your journey of discernment?

Quinn: I first considered the possibility of a priestly vocation soon after my conversion, that is, around November 2011, when I started to feel a desire to give myself to Our Lord. At first, I wasn’t sure whether this strange attraction to the priesthood was merely the consequence of extra enthusiasm from my recent conversion, or whether God was truly calling me to this more perfect way of life. Although I weighed equally both possibilities, in my heart I believed that God was in fact calling me to the priesthood. In one respect, I was very surprised that I could have a vocation to the priesthood considering how far I had come as a pianist, but in another respect, the thought of serving God in the priesthood gave me a sense of consolation.
At this point in my journey of discernment, having discerned the diocesan priesthood for two years, I am now considering a vocation with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, a clerical society dedicated to the formation and sanctification of priests with a spirituality centered around the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the extraordinary form of the Roman rite, also known as the Latin Mass. My own discernment goes to show you that discernment is not always easy and clear, nor should it be. Part of discernment is the constant searching and carrying-out of God’s Will in both big and small matters.

Abide: What do you think will be the biggest challenge of your vocation? What do you think will be the greatest reward?

Quinn: I think the biggest challenge of my vocation will be overcoming my own pride and selfish desires hindering me from giving myself unconditionally to God and to the mission of saving souls. The office of priesthood especially demands heroic sacrifices and self-denial, as the priest is called not only to take up his cross, but to embrace it with an ardent love for and trust in God the Father, in imitation of Jesus Christ. Although this may sound disheartening, Our Lord has assured us that “you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matt 11:30)
I think the greatest reward of my vocation—other than God Himself—will be leading others back to God, for Whom they were created, amidst this largely God-forsaking culture. There is a restlessness in our culture as people constantly search for the next thing the world has to offer. Yet, I hope to bring people to recognize that “our heart is restless, until it rests in You, O Lord.” (St. Augustine, Confessions)

Abide: Do you have any advice for other young people who are discerning a call to consecrated life?

Quinn: Simply do what God always calls everyone to do: “In whatever situations we happen to be,” says St. Francis de Sales “we can and must aspire to the life of perfection.” You must strive with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, to become the person God is calling you to be, which is a saint. And with a patient surrender, you will find not only that your calling will become more clear, but also that you will have the courage to carry it out. There is no easy way to go about discernment, and you will certainly encounter trials, but Jesus has reassured us, saying “take courage, for I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
When our crucified Lord said “I thirst”, he was referring to His thirst for souls and for those who would consecrate themselves to His service in saving souls. May you respond to that precious call, and may God be glorified in all things.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Called By Name: Fr. Kris

We are pleased to share with you the third video in the Called By Name series, featuring Fr. Kris Schmidt of St. Joseph's Basilica in Edmonton.

Thank you for sharing your inspiring story, Fr. Kris!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Called By Name: Fr. Jim

We are pleased to share the second video in the 'Called By Name' series from the Archdiocese, featuring our own Fr. Jim Corrigan of St. Theresa's Parish in Edmonton. 

Thank you for sharing your inspiring story, Fr. Jim!