So things have been unraveling about as badly as they can. Already watching the last of our savings accounts hemorrhaging away, with little to no money coming in, the job prospect list just isn't growing. I've had several interviews, but age, and a rather tumultuous last couple years, coupled with the 'former Protestant clergy' motif of my resume cuts me off usually around the first to second interview. My wife has not been any better, so much of her life spent in Protestant Christian education. Add to that the fact that there was a time when we were making pretty good money, and the reluctance that lower paying employers have for bringing us on, and there just isn't any light at the end of the tunnel. At least not now.
Then yesterday, I found out for the first time I was overdrawn in my checking account. I've had that account for I don't know how many years, and that's the first time ever. Why? Because a temp job I had a month or so ago said it overpaid me. It made a mistake with the amount, and so it was supposed to send me a new statement telling me what I owed. It never did, but apparently it went ahead and, without my knowledge, withdrew the amounts from my checking account. So there I was, blissfully writing checks, and accumulating a boatload of overdraft charges in the process.
Well that was about the pits. When you are losing money, it's bad enough. When you end up with less money than you thought you had when you are losing money, that sucks. So it was that things were a little down, until all of a sudden, I went to get the mail and voila! In a card from some anonymous Catholic who knows of our plight, was a collection of gift cards. And a generous amount as well.
One thing we can't say is that Catholics haven't been generous to us over the years. The biggest problem is we can't get into the Church, there is nothing in the actual Church to employ us (and it's not for a lack of trying). Most, apparently, just don't see the worth in my wife's, or my, background, it being Protestant and not Catholic. Positions that we were grossly qualified for have come and gone without so much as a phone interview. So we are stuck. The secular world sees little of value in our backgrounds, but unfortunately the Catholic Church (at least in our neck of the woods) apparently doesn't see much more.
I know, I know. What about those wonderful stories? There was a time when Scott Hahn and Marcus Grodi came into the Church that entire positions were created just for them! Why, this diocese or that university or that Catholic ministry would literally create an 'office for this guy who used to be a Protestant minister'! I know. But that was when Ronald Reagan was president. When MTV still played videos. It was a time fast on the heels of Pope John Paul II's great emphasis on the New Evangelization and the need to reach out to our separated brethren. That was then. Today, the focus has changed. Pope Benedict is not there, preferring instead to focus on reaching out to the Anglican Communion, Islam, and Secular Europe.
As a result, there just isn't an overarching interest any more in Protestant Clergy Converts. Like Pet Rocks and Cabbage Patch Dolls, the fad has passed. I'm not saying there is nowhere anywhere in the global Church that sees value in this, but certainly in these parts the interest continues more like a quaint tradition than a dynamic movement. Most spokespeople for the movement, you must admit, are getting grayer and more wrinkled with age. Converts in general seem to do as well as they ever have, but providing for family is not a big deal for them. The Protestant Clergy Convert, however, seems less of a priority than it ever did, and even then it was not a major concern. There could be other reasons, but whatever the reasons, it is what it is.
Individuals, however, see it differently. And that is one of the strange things about the Catholic Church. What the Church officially teaches and what Catholics live out in their lives are often two different things, much to the chagrin of Church leaders. And yet, as in this case, those individual Catholics with their own idea of things can sometimes rise to the occasion and give that cup of cold water where the bureaucracy and the institutional framework of the Church has no place for it to be given. So praise God for individual Catholics, who keep the faith, even if not always the way the Church would like. Because sometimes, as my own experience has shown, they step up and do what the Church itself seems utterly incapable, or unwilling, to do.