Archbishop Richard Smith (Edmonton)
One person can go through their entire life being perfectly kind to everyone he or she met, avoiding all disagreements and be adored by the entirety of the community he or she lived in, yet he or she could still fail to be a good person. The quality of goodness is not being agreeable, the quality of goodness is doing whatever is needed of you, sacrificing whatever needs to be sacrificed in order for the best to be brought out of yourself and the world around you. This world seems to be enamored with the idea that the nicest fellow or the kindest soul or even the “Chillest Bro” is the best, but true virtue lies within those who are dedicated to holiness and unafraid to upset those who need to change.
Howdy ho friends, my name is Ben, and when I was in fifth grade I pretended to cook my wife breakfast. Nothing special, just scrambled eggs and toast, but it didn’t matter to her because it was from my heart, and that is all that matters. I’ve always been a hopeless romantic like that, imagining and dreaming the life of a married man, but recently I have had to picture myself in an entirely different light. I have had to picture myself wearing all black with a roman collar. I was dating a wonderful girl back in December when I first felt God pulling on my heartstrings. I knew it was not something I could ignore, so I decided to pursue it. My relationship was ended and thus began a long series of many talks with my parents were not very hot on the idea of me becoming a priest. It was a very rough time, but I made it through it. I was on fire for the priesthood, I wanted to go directly into the seminary and just power out my nine years. Long story short, I am not. I will be attending the Franciscan University of Steubenville come fall, but my discernment has not even come close to ending. In fact, I think it just began. I really did not have any clue what discernment was, but I think I know a little bit better now. I have made many a mistake in my discernment. I always had an agenda for myself. I knew what I wanted, and I was trying to figure out if that was what God wanted. Even if it was marriage, I was always praying to God, like, “Is this one right?” I have since realized, however, that that isn’t even close to what I need to be doing. It isn’t close to what anyone needs to be doing. Discerning God’s will isn’t a decision, it is a process of living. It is not going option by option, remaining static until we are entirely sure of one path. Discernment is living, it is being animated and letting God lead you. Making decisions, and seeing if God gives those decisions life. If they do not, cut the branches and move elsewhere. Eventually, I am quite aware of this, you will know. And it will not be because you asked God. It will because you held no expectations for yourself, did not ask God any questions, and God simply told you. Ask anybody who is married or ordained why they chose that life, they will say “I just knew.”, or, God just told them it was right. And so I abandon all my expectations, no more “Shall I marry her?” or “I would look snazzy in all black” (Which I would), only silence. Only living, only God, and God will tell me the answer.
I have not lost faith in the world. I doubt I ever will, I know that within people lies the great and intense power to love and accept love. My faith is not what breaks me, what breaks me is seeing a world who has lost hope in itself. There is no social, philosophical, religious, or political faction left on the planet that is not regularly called bigots, even when they come in peace. The reality about the bigotry and hate is that it is an illusion, bigotry begets bigotry until all the world is enveloped in darkness, layer upon layer of hatred. Even if it is inconspicuous, that might be the most deadly part about it. Since the beginning of man prejudice and judgment has built up. We are even prejudiced against members of the past, and we are even prejudiced against the members of the future. It is deep seeded, it is unseen, and it is slowly choking us. That is what breaks me. The wall is so thick, I cannot even imagine how to tear it down, but perhaps to be part of the solution. To love, that is my contribution.