Sunday, March 21, 2010

Death, Sparrows, Tooth Decay, and The Jesuits

I've heard this story like 5 times in the last month and apparently read it last year in Medieval British history but had forgotten it. In A.D. 627, King Edwin was trying to decide whether to become a Christian or not, and so he conducted a little council wherein he asked all his advisors whether he should or not.

"Another of the king's chief men, approving of his words and exhortations, presently added: "The present life of man, O king, seems to me, in comparison of that time which is unknown to us, like to the swift flight of a sparrow through the room wherein you sit at supper in winter, with your commanders and ministers, and a good fire in the midst, whilst the storms of rain and snow prevail abroad; the sparrow, I say, flying in at one door, and immediately out at another, whilst he. is within, is safe from the wintry storm; but after a short space of fair weather, he immediately vanishes out of your sight, into the dark winter from which he had emerged. So this life of man appears for a short space, but of what went before, or what is to follow, we are utterly ignorant. If, therefore, this new doctrine contains something more certain, it seems justly to deserve to be followed." The other elders and king's councillors, by Divine inspiration, spoke to the same effect." - St. Bede the Venerable (Ecclesiastical History Bk. II)

I was thinking today that I feel (I usually never trust feelings) fairly certain that I want to enter the priesthood and that I want to meet with our vocations director tomorrow. I thought about my life, dying without children or a wife, and of a hundred years from now when no one will remember me. The only fear I had - honestly - was that I wouldn't be able to become a Jesuit. I'm planning -as of now- on becoming a religious priest (hopefuly SJ), but I thought about how fleeting life is, and how my only real passion is for Christ's kingdom (as terrible a sinner as I am, this is still my deep longing). If I can serve it as a layman, that's great, but I really feel that I want to give up everything. The reading today was from Philipians 3, and it was one of my favourite passages, St. Paul writes that he counts all as rubbish compared to knowing Christ, and that he counts it all as loss that he may be found in Him. That's what I thought: I only want to be found in Christ.

As I brushed my teeth tonight I noticed that a tooth my dentist pointed out 6 months ago looks pretty bad, and I figured it might be decaying. I wasn't worried. I thought 'i'm going to be a priest, who cares what I look like. Perhaps it'll be a form of penance and detachment from vanity.'. Like I said, I'm no saint, but I was actually finding joy in bad things.

All of this connects to a sermon I heard from an English Monsignor today on EWTN who only had one hand. He said that he wasn't sad about it, and that as far as he knew, having two hands doesn't make most people happy anyway. He had a chance to help manage a bank, but left it all and became a missionary priest. He eventually worked with Pope John Paul II. He talked about God bringing good out of every evil and grace out of every sin. It gave me alot of hope to hear someone speak with such faith. The more I think about it, we're all just sparrows in the great hall of life. Some of us don't have hands, some of us have rotten teeth, some of us have rotten souls. But only the last ailment is truly mortal. You can survive anything with the grace of Christ.

I don't know if tomorrow I'll resign myself to complaining or commit grave sins, but in this present moment, I'm grateful to God for the peaceful acceptance of his providence. There are days I am overwhelmed with love for God, and this is one of them. To him be Glory forever.


  1. I am still praying for you, Andrew. Surely Our Lady will show you the way; hold fast to her Rosary and she will lead you.

  2. Thanks alot, I always need prayers. Today I guess I officially started priestly discernment, I met with our diocesan vocations director. Actually it was quite providential, we both pulled into the Catholic centre at the same time and I had this overwhelming feeling that the priest getting out of the car was him. We had a great talk, and we're meeting again soon. I told him I'm interested in the Jesuits but I think he wants to rope me into secular priesthood. I don't know Catholic church politics so I don't quite know how it all works, but the Lord is leading.

    Now I just need the courage to tell my Baptist father...

    I'm going to pray a rosary, it and the psalms are my constant comfort. God Bless.