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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hearing God's Call

"Then Samuel said, 'Speak for your servant is listening.'" -- 1 Samuel 3:10
A person will enhance the possibility of hearing God's call if he or she has:

1. An open mind
2. Attentive ear
3. Pure heart
4. Busy hands
5. Ready feet

Today's reading spoke very much to my heart 1 Sm 3:3b-10, 19
Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the LORD where the ark of God was. The LORD called to Samuel, who answered, “Here I am.” Samuel ran to Eli and said, “Here I am. You called me.” “I did not call you, “ Eli said. “Go back to sleep.” So he went back to sleep. Again the LORD called Samuel, who rose and went to Eli. “Here I am, “ he said. “You called me.” But Eli answered, “I did not call you, my son. Go back to sleep.”

At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD, because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet. The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time. Getting up and going to Eli, he said, “Here I am. You called me.” Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth. So he said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.” When Samuel went to sleep in his place, the LORD came and revealed his presence, calling out as before, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.
I have been asked to speak to a youth group from a neighboring parish, along with another clergy member about vocations tonight after their youth mass.
So, I began to think about my vocation, but most especially my calling.
Just what am I going to say to these youth and not sound like a geeky adult.... Which I probably am, but that is another topic for another day. I will just speak the truth and from the heart, kids can hear the truth when it is spoken in humility and from the heart.
I wasn't lucky enough to have an abrupt awakening like Saint Paul on the road to Damascus, but rather after years of trials, errors and unfulfilled promises (Of the world) that God began, or I began to hear, God's call in my life.
I grew up with 6 brothers, and a sister who went to heaven before I was born, and two catholic parents. I believed in God, and through no fault of my parents, put God on the back burner and didn't think of him much.
When I was a teenager and old enough to go to church without my parents, I would often skip mass on Sundays, swinging by the church only to peek in and see who the priest was so I could tell my parents when they asked who was the priest.
This life of mine continued to grow in pagan-values and I was in many ways contrary to what one would call a Christian.
I often tell my kids to be careful of what you allow into your mind, and be careful to what sins you commit, because you might have to deal with the effects of them for the rest of your life. This statement didn't come from nowhere, it came through experience.
After High School I joined the Navy following the lead of my brothers (2) and continued with an unsaintly life......you can only imagine a life of a sailor.....
After the military I met a wonderful lady (actually the most beautiful girl form my highschool) and that was the beginning of a slow change. Although she was not catholic, we dated for 2 years while she became catholic, and we married.
We were a perfect match; by ourselves there were many inequities, but together we complimented each other and helped each other grow in maturity and in relationship with God.
However, God and faith wasn't the center of our life. We were a young couple, and before we knew it we had 3 children. Living in San Diego California, I expressed an entrepreneurial spirit and opened a psychiatric Home Health company. The money made in the venture allowed us to open another Home Health company in Riverside, and then medical clinics in San Diego, Oceanside, Riverside, and San Jose.
We were rich..... We had more money than we knew what to do with, I was married to a beautiful woman who also has a beautiful heart, and had three children. We lived in a nice house on a hill with a view of the city, owned a big boat that we cruised to Mexico and surrounding islands often, had a lot of friends; we had everything that the world promised would make us happy.
BUT......... I felt a huge void......... I had everything, but it felt like I was still missing the biggest thing that could make me happy........but what might that be?
Again, I wasn't hit over the head with a vision or a overwhelming locution, but rather a quiet simple thought that came out of nowhere...... I was missing God...
I then began to reflect on my life through what God would see me as, I began to look at my future and to try to see where I was going.
I attended a "Curcillo" weekend retreat and the seeds were planted.... I was going about this life all wrong. I wasn't to build a life surrounded by what I wanted, but rather I was to live a life in service to others.
The businesses and the clinics were to much a temptation of greed and self-centeredness as well as just being an obstacle for me. We abruptly closed them down and moved to Norther California to start over. Unlike the wise business decisions of the past. We closed the business down in such a way that we lost everything. We were literally starting over from nothing.
This new and simple life allowed us to focus our lives in the Lord and his people. We studied our faith, became disciples of Jesus and Mary and lived a life of service to others. We began to see (very quietly) a path that God was laying out for us.
Don't get me wrong, we didn't always have the answers, and God allowed struggle and still does in our lives. But I quickly identified that the huge void that I experienced in the past when the world would of said that I had it all, was gone as long as I was serving others and our God.
One day while working on the computer the diaconate website just popped up on the screen. I didn't even know what a deacon was. I read what a deacon is and what he does, and this was exactly what I had been feeling God called me to do for the past few years but didn't realize that there was role in the catholic church for this.......
I made an appointment with the Diocese diaconate director, Sister Paulina, who was very nice and welcomed me, but also stated that the 5 year diaconate formation class had just begun a few months prior and that I could apply in 4 1/2 years for the next program.
So close, but yet so far......
I hindsight, this was a blessing......I continued to live a life of service and completed a 3 year formation through "The Disciples of Jesus and Mary" a lay movement through the "Society Of Our Lady Of The Most Holy Trinity." This formation was so strong that it laid the groundwork for the 5 year formation of the Diaconate.
My motto is to always follow the peace. I have found that as long as my actions and decision bring me peace in the depths of my heart, I am following God's call and direction. I don't mean that I am following a life of ease or pleasure, often and usually it is the opposite that brings me peace.
I am a new deacon, ordained less than 1 year, I have much to learn, much to experience, but I am quite sure that if I can grow smalled and He can grow larger in me, I will be and can be an instrument of God to not only make a difference in this world, but actually fulfill my purpose here on the earth, that is to be a reflection of Jesus to others. This can only be accomplished if I purge and purify my own pride, greed, desires, and allow Jesus to fill me with who he is and then allow others to see the part of me that actually isn't me, but Him.
Please pray for me ....... And for all the Catholic Clergy.

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