I recently wrote this reflection and posted it on Facebook. I figured I’d post it here as well and share my thoughts and current discernment process.
WARNING - VERY LONG POST*
(Names also removed for anonymity purposes).
The last two summers at my parish we’ve had one teen each year agonize over what they should do when they’re done their Grade 12 year. Person M’s struggle was an interesting one, her and I talked about it often leading up to when she had to make the call. She eventually decided to do a year of Net Ministries, and by all accounts I have heard she proceeded to do wonderful work, and now appears to be volunteering at my parish with the youth ministry. Not only do I look forward to hearing more about this, but I also look forward to working with her in the ministry.
But Person L’s case was different. Person L, like myself, is “plugged in” the Internet. Ordinarily I’m not sure Person L and I would even come close to talking, but through Twitter (and Facebook) we’ve had several good conversations. So everyday on Twitter there was L tweeting away about how she had no idea what she wanted to do, no idea what God wanted her to do. Blog posts detailing the agony of indecisions. In response, some people would put on the ministry hat and give answers based on youth ministry. Others would put on the friend hat and give a response that friends do. In the case of Person D, she somehow managed to merge the two hats together and was somehow able to do both at the same time. Myself, I don’t really have a “ministry hat”. A part of the dynamic I bring to the Core team is the paternal role I take with both teens and Core (quite possibly due to being a married man with a son, or maybe because that’s a role I see needed within the ministry. Or maybe it comes naturally…sounds like another note might have to be made about that at some point). So here I was talking with Person L and generally trying to be supportive/giving advice like I would my own kids, and she makes the decision; she’s going on Net. You’d think this would be it, but Person L is Person L (God bless her), and there’s still some “peaceoutfreakouts” (as they are known) that still happen. But she’s going on Net, and she needs money to do it.
I talked with my wife about tithing, and we agreed that I would scale back giving to missionaries and give more to the parish. This was made easy when one of the people I supported decided to go back to teaching. But during this time, I did something I usually don’t do; I took action without consulting my wife. I decided to not only give Person L a small one-time donation, but without hesitation I decided to give her 25 bucks a month.
I’ve come to the realization of why I did that instinctively; the entire time Person L was agonizing over her indecision, I was starting to have some questions of my own regarding a big decision.
For years now I’ve felt called to join a secular order. A secular order is a branch of an religious order, one which clergy and lay people alike can join. For years now I’ve felt the call to join the Secular Franciscans. The reasons were obvious;
- I was born on the Feats of St. Francis.
- I came back to the Church at a conference run by Franciscans, at school run by Franciscans.
- I’m a simple man, who likes simple things. Simple and small things amuse me greatly!
- I fast a fair amount.
- I’m passionate about fellowship.
All of those things, to me, added up to the Secular Franciscans. An Order where all are equal (Priests, Laymen, Friars). I love the Rule of Francis, and by joining and professing I would have to live by that Rule.
But for the past year or so, I have been having doubts. You see, a second secular order has caught my eye. One which speaks to my mind and heart, and dovetails nicely with not only what I love doing in ministry, but also what I’m good at in ministry.