Fr. Jewitt, Pastor at the Parish of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, and I watched the first two segments of the A & E program, “God or the Girl” on Easter Sunday evening. It is a five-part “reality” show about four young men discerning their call to the priesthood. I watched the third and fourth segments with a bunch of fellow seminarians at St. Meinrad on Monday night. The final show is this next Sunday evening and I am sure there will be a group of us watching it together.
Overall I think the show is pretty good. One point that many of us agree is not brought out very clearly – that it is not an immediate decision needed to choose between God and the girl, it is a decision to discern the decision. In other words, it is a decision to enter the seminary and take their discernment to a new level. But, as in most media outlets, you must sensationalize it a little bit. That aside, these guys seem to be having very real emotions, thoughts, issues, discussions, etc., about their decision. I am pretty sure it is all real (of course it may be edited to make certain things stand out more or less than it did/does in reality).
One positive thing about the show is that it shows that there are people out there making these kinds of decisions. These men, along with all of us here at St. Meinrad and the many other seminaries across the world, are looking to serve God in the way He wants us to. I think it is a positive thing to put this out for all to see, and thus invite others to do the same. As I continue to walk my discernment path I think about how I could help others to also discern God’s will for their lives. I believe God wants us to be in line with His will for our lives – whether we are married or single, young or old, male or female, white or black or yellow or brown or red or etc., rich or poor, Catholic or not. If we can understand what God wants for us, then I think our lives would be more personally fruitful. Let me expound on this a little.
As I am more aware of Christ in my life, of Christ in the people I meet, and of Christ in the situations I encounter, then I am more likely to respond and act in a way that is somewhat similar to what Christ may do. As I minister to the men at the correctional facility I can either see a criminal in front of me or I can see Christ. If I see a criminal I may be judgmental and fearful, but if I see Christ I may be humble and offer care and support. If I see just me in myself I may see doubt and fear, but if I see Christ in me I may see a caring and thoughtful man who wants to do his best to serve those in front of me. If I see just the four walls of the prison and the old and worn metal desk and chairs we sit at I may be discouraged and hopeless, but if I see Christ sitting in the room with us I may see a light at the end of the tunnel and hope for the hopeless. I think these types of things are being revealed to me because I am continually looking to Christ to lead my life, to the Holy Spirit to guide my steps, to God to conform my will to His will. There is a lot of peace that I am experiencing as I go through some very trying times, hectic schedules, and the major change of going back to school and studying for the priesthood. I truly feel I am doing God’s will for my life, so He gives me strength and clarity of vision to fulfill my mission.
So how does that relate to helping others know God’s will for their lives? If someone is just going through the motions in life, where is the hope and peace in that? If someone has blocked God out of their business life, and totally separate their beliefs from their work, where is the sense of accomplishment in that? If someone is wondering what path to take and don’t turn to God in prayer, or worse, turn to God in prayer and then ignore the promptings that may be coming from the Holy Spirit, what comfort and reassurance comes from that? I think we, as Catholics and Christians, need to recognize that an essential part of our being is to continually turn to God for direction in our life.
As I grew up I don’t remember anyone teaching me or showing me how to pray for guidance on my career, my mate, my vocation, my anything. We prayed for people who were sick, we prayed for relatives, we prayed before each meal, and we celebrated Mass on Sundays and many other days. I do not remember ever having anyone mention specifically that I should pray to find out what God’s will for my life was and to ask for guidance in decisions like where I should go to school, what degree I should get, what town I should live in, what activities I should be involved in, etc., all things very important to who I would become as a man. I was raised in a very good Christian home with devoutly Catholic parents. I don’t see a lot of evidence that it is happening with today’s youth either. There are exceptions, I am sure, but the majority is probably not giving this kind of attention to God in their everyday life. It is in doing exactly that, giving God attention in my everyday life, that has opened up the rivers of blessings that have poured out on me in my walk with Christ. How to explain it, I am not sure, but I am sure that for me it is evident in the peace and contentment I feel and the doors of opportunity that continue to open up for me. I don’t open these doors, God does, I just step through them.
So, as these four men on “God or the Girl” go through their decision making process, I hope that each of the people watching will catch a glimpse of what they might do in their own lives, no matter if they are married or not, and work to discern what God has in store for them. That is my hope and my prayer.