I will be out of town for the next few days to "catch up" on a few things in my life. In the meantime, I decided to leave two exerpts from my autobiography-one for today and one that will post tomorrow. They come directly from my paper I sent in to the Capuchins.
As I mentioned before, I wrote 5 smaller stories instead of one 5 page paper. The idea was to focus on certain times in my life, what they meant, and what I draw from those experiences. I had a chance to call the Vocations Director in Chicago and let him proofread the paper before I even submitted it. He loved it, so I'm confident it will work out well.
Enjoy, and I will see you all again when I get back in town.
"In memory of your death and resurrection, we offer this life-giving bread and this saving cup…"
By age 17 I’d memorized most of the Eucharistic Prayer. I like to think this is when God planted his seed.
During high school I served as the alterboy for Fr. Dick Host at St. James Church in Grand Rapids, MI. We were still new to the area, and my mother thought it would be a good idea for both of us to get involved with the church. Initially, I think she wanted a reason for me to go to church every Sunday, and being a volunteer was just the thing.
For three years I served at the Church, rarely ever missing a Mass. I became more familiar with the actual dynamics of the different parts of the Mass, why the priest did this or that, how each little thing had a specific name and purpose (I was confused when someone asked for a Purificator).
When I was younger Mass was just a kind of show. I know that sounds completely sacrilegious, but that’s the best way to describe it. As a kid, I saw what was happening at the alter, I watched how people sat/kneeled/stood, and I remember when everyone got in line to accept the Eucharist. Yet I never really took the time to understand why these things were important.
As I continued to help during Mass, my interests in religion and philosophy soon blossomed. I read as much as I could regarding other religions and beliefs. My senior year of high school I was reading Camus, Kafka, and even had someone try to explain Scientology to me.
I haven’t always been a regular at church since my days as an alter server, however I’ve always had that interest regarding philosophy, existentialism, and religion. For many years, I continued to look into the question of: “Why are we here?” Even then, I was searching for that “something.” Kierkegaard was too confusing, Nietzsche was too pessimistic, and I didn’t know enough Greek to truly understand Origen.
While I continuously try to understand more about religion and Catholicism, it took a while to truly develop a sense of spirituality. I knew God existed, I knew Jesus died for our sins. I had to learn how that affected me. And what continuously drew my attention was how Jesus served those less “desirable.” I couldn’t walk past a homeless person without giving money; I couldn’t let a friend go without telling me of their woes. I found my spirituality in the service of others, and while it took a while to truly understand it, I realize I’ve lived with it all my life.
Perhaps I’m subconsciously trying to live up to my mother, or maybe I’m the poor kid trying to make good. Perhaps these are real factors on why I want to join the Capuchins, but I don’t think it’s the main reason:
My godparents are far from the Church now; one is divorced three times and the other is a Seventh Day Adventist. I missed out a season of football because of Confirmation Classes in 8th grade. My best friend is an agnostic, most of my co-workers haven’t seen the inside of a church in years, and 99% of the people I talk to don’t have a clue what a Capuchin or a friar are.
I cannot convince them with words. But I can listen, I can pray, I can teach, I can feed; I can be someone’s hero. And God willing, I can also help someone believe.
That is what I feel I have been called to do.