Back in January, I took a road trip. After three hours of riding on a sleepy charter bus, we finally made it to Austin, TX. I joined with 100 other people from my parish for the Texas Rally For Life. Pretty cool! We joined thousands of others from around Texas to rally for the pro-life cause. We had great speakers, and Abby Johnson MC’d. No big deal.
Before the march, we had some downtime after we arrived in Austin to relax and take a lunch break.
During this break, I was going around talking to various people being a social butterfly.
|Ok, so Apu from The Simpsons is being a hummingbird here, but whatever.|
Not that I have any measure of popularity, but I suppose because I’m pretty involved at my parish, people know of me. Because of this, whenever they have a chance to talk to me, they want to know more about me. I found myself in such a conversation with a mom of one of my religious education students.
She asked me the usual questions. She asked me what I do for a living, the ministries that I’m involved with, and of course she asked about my marital status. When I told her that I’m single, she asked the next natural Catholic question in this Catholic context: do you want to be a priest? I chuckled and answered no, but what she said next is what prompts me to write this blog post.
She said that she thinks that I would make an excellent priest or husband in the future.
This stuck with me the rest of the Austin trip. Why? Because I guess I needed to hear it. It’s an affirmation that whatever I’m doing means I’m on some right track.
In our Catholic world, a vocation is a calling by the Lord to live out one’s life according to His will (His not mine) to a particular state in life. It is truly a calling and not an occupation. The primary vocations, or states in life, available to me are priesthood, marriage, and single life (which single life could also mean religious life in community like in a monastery). The most talked-about vocations are priesthood and marriage, with marriage being the more popular one.
And so for the mom to say that I would make an excellent priest or husband gave me pause because sometimes it’s easier for me think about it if the opinion is more one-sided. But to be considered excellent for both? Hmm.
I’ve heard it said before (I forget where) that a really good, awesome Catholic priest would also make a really good, awesome husband. Now, married priests and priestly husbands is a totally separate discussion which I won’t cover here, but both Catholic priests and husbands share a commonality— both are men! Not only both are men, but both are fathers. In each of these vocations, priesthood and marriage, the man is called to fatherhood in uniquely expressed ways. Fatherhood, to me, is the fullest expression of being a man.
So I took her compliment as a deeper affirmation that I’m living out an authentic masculinity that fits well with either of the two vocations. The commonality between a Catholic priest and a husband is the man and his call to fatherhood. His role as priest or husband doesn’t make sense or cannot be lived in its fullness if he doesn’t first live out his authentic masculinity.
It was a really nice compliment for me. It was something I needed to hear at the time. It helps me realize that I must be doing something right and that overcoming the struggles of living out authentic masculinity is worth it. Striving for an authentic manliness has been a constant reflection of mine since the end of college. I don’t think I’ve arrived, but I must be on the right track.
Now, time to dig deep, put on my archery mentality (whereby archery mentality focuses on what was done right to continue hitting the bullseye) and take note of what it is I’m doing to be the man God created me to be.
Please pray for me!