"Being Little for Christ" – Thank You All

Dear brethren and friends,

Before I head off to school and work, I wanted to post this quick "thank you." I've shared it on another forum, but I wanted to share it here too. Hopefully what little I have learned may be useful to others discerning here too.

I have been with you all here on CAF for 5 years; since I was still in RCIA at the age of 17. I have brought here some of my deepest struggles, and you all have given me such wisdom and advice. I think I am finally beginning to bear fruit of all of that wisdom, and I felt that y'all should know this...so that y'all never think that you don't make a difference here.

All my life I have wanted "greatness." But it never has been in the same sense of my peers. I wanted to be "great" in a religious or moral context; this was expressed in childhood dreams of being a "warrior" (as opposed to a "soldier") or being a preacher/evangelist. When I came home to the Holy Church (I was a revert, baptized as a baby), I was but a teenage boy awed by the history, majesty, and doctrinal truth found in Catholic Christianity. I remember that being "little" was okay because I was now a member of True Christianity. Even then though I wanted to be "someone" in that same Church. I didn't just want to be a disciple; I wanted to be an Apostle...a saint. As I grew, I became more and more desirous of getting as deeply into the Church as I could. I fell in love with the Roman Liturgy, the idea of dwelling in God's house, and celebrating the Mysteries. That led me to want to become a priest.

I think in a sense being a priest offered me that "greatness"...that intimacy with the Church that I wanted. Every other vocation faded and seemed more and more "mediocre" and "less" when compared to the seeming glory of being a priest. It got to where I didn't want anything but to become a priest. I was able to express that desire for closeness with the Church by teaching her children and, especially, serving at the holy altar. Of course, last year God made His Will known to me and I did not enter the seminary as I desired. Indeed, the very idea of being a priest at all became...difficult to hope in given what I learned. I ended up completely succumbing to my vices and my sense of despair to the point that I have ended up as I am now: a minimum wage worker who failed to graduate college twice, and lives with his parents.

Naturally, I find myself dissatisfied and disoriented by my current lack of greatness. I look at my gifts and my knowledge, my passion and my zeal, and I think: "How the heck am I doing something so 'little?!?'"

But what I see now is that I'm not as "awesome" as I tend to think I am...or as others may think I am. I struggle with many issues of maturity, sin, and foolishness. Compared to many others who may lack the knowledge or passion that I have, I am still quite small in terms of virtue and discipline. Compared to even those much younger than I, I am small in my lack of innocence and trustworthiness. Even relative to the "common man" that I work with, I am quite ignorant of much social, emotional, and work-ethic that they exhibit. Whether I like it or not: I am little.

TO BE CONTINUED...

Recently, I made a confession to my pastor on Shrovetide. During the sacrament, he told me about “being little for Jesus.” I told him that that is something I struggle with greatly; to which he responded “that’s because you’re human.” And he chuckled.

What I have realized is that, well, maybe I am supposed to be “little.” (Oh this is so hard to explain!) Maybe the greatness I seek is found in being “little for Jesus.” I am reminded of the Little Flower; how she became a Doctor of the Church alongside such “greats” as St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Athanasius, St. Basil, and so forth. In her “littleness” she became great and is studied for her theological insights by Christians of almost all stripes. She never served at the holy altar, she never celebrated the sacraments, she never governed over others…she was just a lay-woman who took the habit and lived in almost total obscurity; to the point that we may have never known about her had we not found her diary. Her diary!!!

Lately I find myself very sad that I cannot do certain things. I want to serve at the holy altar at Mass. I want to preach the Gospel to crowds. I want to lead others in the liturgy. I want to celebrate Mass and hear confessions. I want to sing the Exsultet. I want to live fully the liturgical year of the Church. I want to memorize the Bible, the catechism, and become an expert on theology, history, and Patristics. I want to do great things…remarkable things.

What I don’t want is to be “little.” To me just being the pews at Holy Mass and on the most sacred holy-days is too little. Just teaching a small classroom is too little. Spending 30-35 hours a week pushing carts seems too little.

But then I think, I am not little even if I think I am. I am a Christian, able to take part in something more “great” than I can even understand! I am allowed to witness ancient rituals that make God dwell among us. I am called to live a life that is perfect in virtue, far-surpassing even the great moral teachers and philosophers of both Western and Eastern civilization. In prayer I encounter the Divine Presence, and in taking the holy sacraments, I meet Jesus face-to-face!

Maybe…just maybe…the way I am to learn what greatness really is, I must first learn to be “little.” Ultimately, all the “greats” that I admire weren’t really that great instrincally. On the contrary, their “greatness” derived from a simple acceptance of Christ’s love in their lives. They were “great” because Christ was great. Perhaps what will truly “satisfy” my desire to be “great” will not be embracing some remarkable vocation like the priesthood or the monastic life; rather, perhaps it will be simply learning how to see and embrace the “greatness” that already exists in my life.

Because, what if I became a true man of God? What if I made all the great virtues basic habits of my day-to-day life? What if I was able to enter fully into the Sacred Liturgy even as I sit in a pew? What if I became an avid student of the Scriptures and Church teachings but never got to preach it to others? What if I come to love and know Jesus Christ intimately, but never dwell in His house or celebrate His Mysteries?

Would not these things all still be “great?” Of course they would!!! Sure they may not “feel” like they are great, but in the sight of God are they not wondrous examples of the power of Christianity to change human beings into saintly beings? Are they not examples of the reality of the Resurrection being active in those who follow Christ?

Don’t get me wrong, if God is calling me to the priesthood, then I would see it as a dream-come-true! But I am starting to think that maybe becoming a priest without first learning to see God in little things would be incomplete. If a priest is not first a good Christian, then he cannot be a good priest. So it is, I suspect, with marriage, fatherhood, monasticism, diaconate, and single life too.

It’s so easy for me to forget that I have only been fully Initiated into the Church for three years (four on April 22nd, 2012). To me it seems like a life-time, but in perspective, I am still a very young Christian. I still toddle along at Mother Church’s side as she exhorts me to follow the Master more closely. I am but the 15-year old St. John, my holy patron, who did not show “greatness” until long after the Ascension of the Lord. Maybe it is time to “let go” and accept the intimacy available to me as a layman. If God calls me to the priesthood, then He will call and make it happen. If not, not. Why is that so hard for me to accept? I suspect it is because I am still such a young Christian. I still have so much to learn about my Faith and living it every day.

Thank you all for helping me to see this. Granted, it wasn’t just the posters here, but many of y’all did play a role. More and more God unveils things to me to show me who I truly am in Him, and what it really means to be in full communion with the Catholic Church. Sorry if this was a little long.

Hopefully, I will be able to give back here as much as I have received.

THANK YOU!!!

Dear Antinius Lupus,

Thank you for sharing your experience with such openness. My first reaction is to encourage you to pursue the priesthood. I am not familiar with your posts and I do not know why you dropped out of college nor what vices you are referring to. Can you explain? Are you addicted to something? Have you talked to a priest regarding your desire to be a priest? Have you applied to a seminary?

I don’t think that the fact that you reverted three years plus ago is a problem. I had been taking care of my elderly father who died this past September and a few weeks ago I saw a video on Youtube. I think the person is a nun who is speaking about taking care of our elderly the Catholic way - with love and respect. She goes on to say that we should accept taking care of our elderly as a vocation and that God had been preparing us all our lives to take care of that son or daughter of his during the end of their time. The same understanding would apply here, if you are called to the priesthood - God has been preparing you all your life for the vocation. :slight_smile:

You are in my humble prayers. We need priests and from your post- I think you would be a good one.

Thank you! :) You are in my prayers!

Hello Antonius - thank you for sharing. Welcome home and may I recommend a scripture reading : Luke 9:46-48. Prayers for you.

Hi there :smiley:

I’m so thankful that you have posted this. It is so great that you are even thinking about how you need to be “little” for the sake of Christ.

In regards to being a Priest, I don’t think you should ever lose hope in that. I highly encourage you. Though I think you are right when you say you need to learn littleness first.
This is a very good point. A Priest is not just the external of doing the things a Priest does such as presiding over the Mass, hearing Confessions etc, but it is also a very interior life. Put the cultivation of a good interior life as your priority. Putting God first at all times.

Pray often, “What you will God not what I will.” You will be pleasantly surprised that if you follow Gods will as much as you can everything will work out for your higher good. This is because God always has our best interests at heart.

Even if you never become a Priest, just be happy to do Gods will in all things. That is the most important thing for us in this life, is to love God whole heartedly and to want to do his will for us.

God bless you +++

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