In less than a week, I will no longer be a salesman. On Tuesday I will give up the greatest career I've had in my life, and take a job with less hours to better reflect on the upcoming year.
Later this month, I will have interviews with the Vocation Director of the Capuchins, with their psychologists, their doctors, and a host of other people to decide if I am capable of applying to the order.
This is no new decision. It's something I've been pondering for months. Over the summer, several things have made me realize the path I should take. Unfortunately, much of that time was unchronicled because of my busy schedule.
Over the next few days, as I continue to deliver current news, I will share some stories of the past few months, and how they've helped me arrive at this point in my life.
The first and the hardest part: the death of my grandmother.
September of 2007 will be remembered as a pivotal role in my discernment, because of the death of my grandmother. A proud, hard-working, and faithful woman, my grandmother lived the life of a poor migrant worker. My family looked to me for guidance. They looked to me for strength. While my mother, aunts, and uncles battled the emotion of losing their mother, I as the eldest of the third generation of the Martinez family tried to be strong for everyone else.
I was asked about Heaven and Hell. I was asked about Extreme Unction. I was asked about Purgatory. While I didn't have all the answers, they felt comfortable hearing words. It set their mind at ease, if only because they had someone to listen to the tough questions. It was as if my family already thought I was a priest.
The Saturday before she died, I remember driving down to be with the family. We were at the hospital for a while, and my mom and aunts talked about heading to someones house to get some rest. I said I wanted to drive for a bit, and left in my own vehicle.
That night I drove around South Bend, completely lost in my own thoughts. I cruised around the town until 11:30PM, not knowing much of what to think or do. I was confused. I was sad. I was in pain.
After hours of thinking and rattling my brain, I realized what was bothering me. I'd told most of the family about my discernment, and how I was looking into the Capuchins. However I'd never told my grandmother. I kept it from her when she was healthy because I was unsure, and there's no way I could explain how complicated my decision was. Now, when time was almost too late, there's no way she'd even know.
At midnight I returned to the hospital, and the nurses let me into her room without question. For the first time, I was alone with my grandmother who was no longer responsive. I sat by her bed, and talked to her for the first time in a long time.
"Grandma. It's me. Soy Vito.
"Grandma, I know you can still hear me. There's something I've wanted to tell you for a long time. I think God's calling me to be a priest, Grandma, and I don't know what to do. I'm scared that I'm not good enough. I'm scared of changing my life.
"But I'm gonna try. I think I've found where God wants me to serve, and I think I know what he wants me to do. I think he just wants me to be happy. I don't know if I'm smart enough, or holy enough. But I'm really gonna try."
In tears, I sat with my Grandmother as I sit in front of this notebook, overwhelmed by the feelings of grief, feelings of complete humility, and the total honesty of what my feelings are. I'll never know exactly what road I should be on unless I make the next big step.
Even now, I'm still not sure.
...but I'm going to try.