Monday, January 27, 2014

Our Catholic Conversion and where things stand

I've noticed a couple responses to my post below, and some have reached out to contact - dare I say console - me over the same post.  Still working on the borrowed computer, as funds just aren't there to get the main one fixed.  And that's cramping my time for blogging.

Blogging.  I started my blog several years ago  (2010 I think).  That was after about a year of suggestions.  They started in 2009, about three years after we entered the Church.  At that time, we were sort of bouncing about, trying to make ends meet, sure that something was going to come up in the not-too-distant that would get my minister back into high gear, albeit for a Catholic purpose.

I had worked with RCIA groups, and had done lecture series on the Bible and Church History.  I was advised to write a book.  Several who saw my series pushed my name to other parishes or other Catholic organizations to help me get my foot in the door.  Several who took part in my series advised me to get my thoughts together for writing and teaching and that grand ministry whose door was soon to open.

So with that, after kicking it around, I decided to start a blog.  One, just to get used to putting my thoughts into words.  It had been years since I was in school, and since I'm not a professional writer, the knack for writing my ideas down had gotten rusty.  Two, to engage others.  Hopefully people would come by and I could bounce off ideas and hear mine corrected. Three, I could sort of chisel out a focus - what was it that I was passionate about?

That was back in 2010.  Now, I've all but been told that there is no place for me in our diocese.  Having spent too long waiting, just trying to get by waiting for the grand door opening, and having encountered more than a few misfortunes during this time, we are no longer financially able to relocate to anywhere else.  Meaning that for all intents and purposes, there is no ministry opening for me.

With that realization, it's difficult to keep the ministry flames alive.  I have a library, but to what end?  I've seriously thought of just giving it away (most of it).  I'm not sure what it matters if I keep up with things or even comment on them.  If I'm destined to be a paper pusher in a vast corporation, what is it that I think this regarding the current Pope or that regarding the change in times?

The blog itself has changed over time.  When I first started, I got a hat tip from some other bloggers, and early on there were several who commented.  The comments, in blog-fashion, sometimes got nasty.  Eventually I put a stop to those.   At that time, the comments section went haywire and no comments were able to be made.  I didn't mind.  I liked the relative quite.  Yet I didn't like just throwing things out without comments.  It seemed cowardly, as I think it is, to throw out a stinging commentary without a change for rebuttal.  So I brought the comments back.  But by then, many had left or ceased to comment. The comments never caught up to where they were.  Even now, except for a small handful who occasionally comment, the comment sections remain largely empty.

And if blogging with no comments is cowardly, commenting with no comments can also be tiring.  What's the point?  Is anyone even reading?  And since my ministry days are, at this point with this diocese and this bishop, done, why bother?  So I'm just not sure.  Right now, I've time to think of it.  My wife has a job interview this week.  How her working will fit with home school we don't know.  But we know we need funds and need them now.  With funds, we can do things like fix computers, and then, who knows?  For now, I've time to think about the blog, my library, and a great many things.  I'll return when I can.  Thanks for the prayers, and if anyone knows Bishop who's seriously a fan of Protestant minister converts, just let me know.  If not, a filthy rich Catholic wanting to depart with some of his or her excess will do.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What happened

We were putting down our Christmas decorations this weekend.  In Catholic life, Christmas comes to an end rather late.  We tried to make the most of it, though endless problems, a death in the family, sickness and a polar vortex that challenged our ramshackle house took away many of the traditions we've enjoyed in years past.  That's tough, since this was our 18 year old's Senior year and we wanted it to be a special year.  Hopefully we had enough family time to offset the issues.

Which leads me to where I am.  As we were putting things away, I noticed a special ornament.  It was a commemorative ornament my wife and I received years ago.  I was just starting out in ministry.  Though I was a second year seminary student, I already had made a mark with my colleagues.  I was older than many, and my testimony (recent convert) got me speaking engagements beyond what my lack of experience would suggest.  By 1994, I was serving at one of flagship churches in Kentucky.  I had already spoken at large gatherings, youth rallies and other special occasions.

I was doing well in school. Professors and students recommended that I should continue on and get a PhD.  Perhaps be a professor myself.  Within years, I had visited governor's mansions, dined with the president of one of the country's leading seminaries, had lunch with a Secretary of State.  I had met religious leaders.  I had become a senior pastor.  I had gone back to school to pursue the doctoral degree that so many people recommended.

And that year, at the start of it all, my wife and I sat in the balcony, with the senior pastor, local business leaders, media personnel, professors and other leaders of the denomination.  We were watching the annual Christmas performance, a local event broadcast and promoted throughout the season.  And during intermission, the pastor presented select guests with a commemorative ornament.   My wife and I received one.  There was applause from the audience.  All seemed to be a horizon bright with a wonderful future.

Now, as I type this, I prepare to go to my job.  A mid-day schedule.  For four days a week, and one day in the weekend, I'm removed from my family.  I don't make enough to pay bills, and my wife can't find work.  Without what she gets from the government, we'd be bankrupt.  We've lost all savings, most retirement, and virtually everything we've had.

I've been told that there is nothing for me in our diocese.  That's it.  There isn't anything.  The reasons are varied, and I can't quite tell why.  I see others coming into the Church and doing well, though most to be honest had other vocations than just Protestant Clergy.  Most were professors.  Or they had some other vocation in life they could lean on.

Despite the stories told by certain lay apostolates, there really aren't many full time vocational clergy who become Catholic.  And I can't help but guess I'm why.  It's one thing to say sell everything you have for that pearl of great value.  It's another to do it.

The family has certainly suffered, especially the boys.  Those outside who know of our plight have increasingly begun to tell us to come home to the Protestant world.  Get a job. Serve the Church.  Be loved.  Be accepted.  Family and former colleagues who know what we've been through have been ratcheting up the invites.  But here's the problem.  I don't believe it.  Protestantism that is.  I believe in the historic faith as live out in the Catholic tradition.  As Peter said, where do I go?  When I believe something is true, what are my options?

I'm not sure if the Church would care, though I know some individual Catholics would.  Nonetheless, I can't leave what I believe to be true, even though I feel I would be cared for better if I did so.  I must trudge along. Still, I can't help wonder at times, just like now, what happened.  A life that seemed so full of promise, so full of encouragement, now this.  A diamond in the rough a former colleague called me.  Someone who had something to give.  That seems so long ago.  Now, I must get ready.  I'm a paper pusher underpaid and unable to support my family.  I've been told there is no future in the Church, at least not in these parts.  As it stands now, I must go on wondering.