Where else can you find such grace happening through such craziness?
Bro. Tom Wendorf, National Vocations Director for the Marianists Brothers and Priests
There is no other way to describe the past several weeks than with the quote here from my friend/colleague Bro. Tom. God is so interesting. I am quite possibly busier than I've been at any other time in my life... my calendar is pretty crazy. And yet, God's grace abounds and, somehow, I do not feel at all frazzled.
It all came into focus for me this weekend. This weekend the Marianist Family celebrated the perpetual profession of one of our Brothers - Tom Farnsworth. Tom and I entered religious life in the same year and professed first vows within months of each other. The Mass was beautiful - the UD chapel was packed... The reception and dinner were enjoyable and up-lifting. Last night, after everything was over, another Brother says to a group of us, "I don't know how anyone can come away from a celebration like this and not be inspired." There are no more appropriate words than those.
In his homily yesterday, Fr. Marty (the Provincial for the Marianist Brothers and Priests) stated that what Tom was doing was rare - making a permanent commitment - to live forever witnessing to Christ in this way. And it's true. In our society it seems that people can be a little "commitment-phobic." And the way of a religious is not the way for many people. So, it is rare. For me personally, discerning if a permanent commitment will be the next step in my journey, I am all too keenly aware of that tendency. But, Marty also said that it is God who "makes a vocation"... essentially, it is God who calls and it is God who gives the grace necessary to keep saying yes... even in the midst of craziness.
Lately I've been reflecting on the concept of the "grace of state" - the grace that God gives someone so that the person can live faithful to their call, whatever that call might be. I am reminded of a quote from Scripture, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." I believe that anyone who says yes to a life-time commitment has this kind of confidence... this kind of faith in God's providence. And so I ask myself, "Is this the kind of confidence I have in God?" Well... I know that's what I desire to have.
Now, I'm not going to lie and say that in my so busy life everything has been smooth and without issues. We all know that can't be true. However, in the midst of e-mails and phone calls, paper work and planning, teaching and meetings... God's there. What else is there to say, right?
I've realized that in my life God's grace is often manifested through relationships... through friends and family, community and the larger Marianist family, coworkers and strangers. In recent weeks this has again been the case. Late night conversations with other "young" religious ... coffee with another vocations director... video chats with friends far away... texts from family... shared prayer in community at the end of a retreat day... conversations about prayer and discernment... the celebration of jubilees and professions... bowling with friends... all of these have been experiences of God and bearers of God's grace.
Yes. Even in the midst of craziness - perhaps especially in the midst of craziness - God's grace is ever present. And that is something in which I can have confidence.
Blessings to all who read this!