For a guy like me with an interesting conversion story, it's hard not to see myself in the eyes of a wasteful kid, telling his father: "I am not worthy to be called your son." But there are times when I remember what it was like to waste money on things like the newest clothes, the best phone, a $30 pre-flop bet with 9♦10♦, or just wasting time and energy on needless things.
...and in spite of my conversion, I sometimes miss those spending sprees.
Perhaps that doesn't make me as saintly as some of the other friars here in Novitiate. Not that I need anyone else to tell me where I stand, but I sometimes feel like the odd friar out. There are smart guys here, holy guys, and guys who will one day go on and become Provincials of their provinces. And while I trust the plans of whatever God wishes for me, there are times I just want to ask: "What am I doing here?"
Dealing with college this week has brought out a lot of feelings of waste. As I talked with a Student Advisor at St. Xavier's University in Chicago, I realized how much grant money and time I threw away the first time at college. One is able to see such things in the passage of time, and all the staff at St. Xavier's were quite familiar with returning students regretting ill-used time. Yet as we talked about fulfilling requirements that most students my age have accomplished, I still felt guilty about my previous college experience.
In my provincial's weekly homily, he writes how he wishes we could see the 2nd part of that story - how the Prodigal Son works hard, provides for the family, and counts himself as equal to "the good son."
The problem with that ending is that the Son, or me (as I'm obviously reading into the story), gets to a place where they feel worthy. Will I ever be worthy of this vocation, regardless of how I live? Do I want to be at a place where I feel worthy, or will I just be self-righteous at that point?
For a competitive guy like me, the story of the Prodigal Son (or the Prodigal Father, depending on your interpretation of the parable) presents a challenge to be happy with my imperfections and my history. My background is vastly different from the other Novices here...does that make me any better or worse? Often these ideas of being "better than the others" is self-induced - a carry-over from the days of selling cars.
Perhaps the Epilogue to the Parable of the Prodigal Son is his ability to accept who he is, and know that his father loves him.