"Do you know what you're getting yourself into?" a little voice in the back of my head asked.
"I mean do you really know what you're about to do? What you are giving up?"
I don't think it was the voice of the Enemy or some malignant Force trying to steal my vocation at the last minute. Rather that little voice that spoke came from me. It's a voice that people who've made commitments are probably familiar with: a voice that - after all the planning, excitement, invitations, preparation, and prayer - drives home the greatest question of the day: Am I doing the right thing?
And so as I processed down the aisle at the start of the Liturgy for First Profession, that little voice spoke up.
"This is it!" was my mantra for that day. While trying to finish up last minute preparations and stop and thank everyone for coming, by the time the other Novices and I gathered with the Provincial for a private prayer prior to the start of the Liturgy, the thought of living the vows was far from my mind. So when the music started and the Mass began, I found myself asking if I was really ready for this.
I thought it an odd question to respond to. I'd spent over a year discerning the course of my life. I'd then spent 2 years with the Capuchin Franciscans - first as a Postulant, then as a Novice. With the amount of time and resources for prayer and discernment, how could I not be ready?
I wrestled with this question even as the Mass continued, wondering how many other people have gone through the same thing. It is the on-going dilemna that by choosing to commit, one also chooses to disconnect from other areas of life. And at that time, I think there was a part of me wondering about the things I was giving up.
But in saying "No," one is saying "Yes" to something else. And while that voice teased and touched areas of my life that I will continue to try and understand as a vowed friar, I realized that these past few years have been an experience in the many things I choose to say "Yes" to. It was an acceptance that while it will not always be an easy or pleasant life, it is a choice I will make and hope for a little help from my brothers and my God along the way.
So when I stood before my Provincial, I was able to look him in the eye and make my commitment to the order. I'm sure I won't hear the last of that little voice, but maybe that's okay. Maybe it's the reminder that I have chosen a wonderful and exciting path in my life.