Sunday, August 5, 2012

It's been a long time

Since I blogged.  The reasons are legion, for they are many.  Once again, our life is in upheaval.  As it has been for going on seven years (that would be about how long it's been since we entered the Catholic Church).  Some of it continues to be the unenviable task of attempting to start a new vocation in an increasingly hostile-toward-traditional-religion society experiencing a sluggish, if not declining, economy.  Some also, apparently has to deal with the fact that this is not your father's Catholic Church welcoming Protestant Clergy.  Ah yes, we've all heard the stories about how, back in the day, when Protestant clergy came into the Church, they were welcomed with open arms; positions were made, jobs were given, ordinations were handed out, TV shows were established, classes at colleges and seminaries were opened - all on the so cool basis that these were former Protestant clergy converts who were leaving it all to become Catholic!  Woo hoo!

Well, that was then.  Not saying it doesn't still happen, but not like it used to.  Fact is, the Church has turned a corner and gone down a different path.  There's still those, on the parish level, who may be impressed and glad to see someone come in with an arm load of experience, training, and schooling regarding the faith.  But as a 'Church', things have changed.  The 80s convert explosion was, after all, on the heels of Pope John Paul II's New Evangelism.  Reaching out to our separated brethren was the talk of the day.  But that was then.  Our Pope now is not nearly as evangelistic, and what efforts he has spent reaching out has been confined almost exclusively to the Anglican Communion, Secular Europe or the Islamic world.  This could be one of the reasons.

Another reason might just be that the great Protestant Clergy conversion movement was, in the end, a fad.  It was hip at the time.  Sort of like Dungeons and Dragons.  At first, everyone was playing it.  Then, somewhere it became stigmatized, and you couldn't get most guys to play it from a mile away for fear it would end the social life right there and then.  Same here.  Somewhere, somehow, things have changed.  Not that there is nothing.  Of course, by definition of he numbers of those involved, there is still something.  There is at least one lay apostolate dedicated to keeping the issue of Protestant Clergy converts in the loop, no matter what the actual numbers might be, and no matter just how much actual help is really given.

Likewise, there will still be the parish here or the odd diocese there that reaches out and attempt to assimilate these folks into the Church.  But there were never that many.  There has always been a net loss of former Catholic priests leaving the Church, and in all honesty, the numbers of Protestant Clergy converting were usually small.  Those that did often were clergy in the looser sense of the word: a professor, a youth minister, a Christian counselor or missionary.  Often they were folks who had 'non-clergy' vocations, able to more or less step into a Catholic, or secular, version of what they did in their Protestant lives.  I came to find out that the storied full time minister who walks away from his pulpit, loses everything and then finds a miraculous path to fulfillment serving within the Church while making it back on his feet is a rare, rare thing indeed. 

In fact, some have long gone back to other Christian pastures, seeing the need to continue to eat and feed their families.  Some did make it, but again, that was increasingly long ago.  Some are still coming in, and I encourage them.  Because I still believe the Catholic Faith is the true faith.  But be warned: be prepared to give up everything, and get little to nothing in return except a more meaningful walk with God.  You may well find none of your years or decades of ministry background utilized, and you may end up watching your family lose it all.  It may be that giving everything up for that pearl of great value is worth it in the end, but you won't be able to eat it. 

So that's where much of our turmoil is right now, meaning that blogging has been light, and once again, will probably continue to be light as we work toward getting ourselves on a permanent path in life. 

On another front, my brother-in-law has been diagnosed with cancer.  Like so many things in the last half dozen years, this has added to our sorrow and stress at a time when we had too much of both.  Prayers for him and his diagnosis would be appreciated very much.  Likewise, continued prayers for us as we, even now, continue to find where it is we are supposed to perch in this not-so-new life as Catholics.  We are ever hopeful that things will work out, though we understand that many in our country, and indeed around the world, continue to struggle, and sometimes more.  Nevertheless, when it is your own hearth and home affected, it weighs on your mind no matter how you attempt to qualify it, and we pray that no less than by the end of 2012, we will finally see the path laid before us how we will see these problems fixed, our vocations established, and the ability to relax and know that the proverbial daily bread will be coming in the future.  Especially as we have a young man two years shy of a college we can't, at this time, hope to aid him in attending.

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