NOTE: This post is still being edited. Sort of.
LAST WEEKEND, I was apart of something spiritual and uplifting. It was my second year at SEARCH, which is the annual Winter Quarter retreat for Catholic students involved with the Newman Center for Catholic Campus Ministry at Western Washington University. SEARCH is in my opinion the most amazing Christian retreat that I have ever been to, and I must proclaim – even though I had seen everything before, this year’s retreat was well worth every minute of my time.
Ultimately, my time doesn’t belong to me anyways. My time belongs to God. This is the most precious lesson that SEARCH has taught me, one that I have managed to forget over the course of the last year. At the beginning of the retreat, the staff takes your cell phones, your watches, and anything else that can either tell time or communicate with the outside world. All of these things can detract from your relationship with God.
I know this. As I have consistently been led to understand of my singular past experience communicating with God, I know that if I had not been in a deep state of prayer, I would not have heard Him speaking to me. I would not have known my vocation. I would not have known the mission for the rest of my life.
I might never have gone to Africa.
Although many Americans have a low regard for Catholicism, as in their minds it is chalk-full of pithy truisms and discontented aphorisms, I do believe that Catholicism is the way to salvation.
There are a few things that I might be questioning the Vatican of – mainly the whole gay thing. But perhaps that is out of my love for all people, no matter how flawed they are in the eyes of the Clergy.
One question that I do have for the Vatican: if I have this resounding love for Jesus Christ, if I find myself sometimes admiring his image upon the cross, his abs, his pecs, his amazing and beautiful face – am I any different from a gay man in this regard?
The curse of the consumerism culture that I was raised in, is that I am surrounded by people who break their covenants with God in exchange for money, or for material goods.
I have also been taught by popular media to frown down upon people who have holes in their jeans – especially people who buy jeans with holes in them. And those with dirty jeans that they wear into town. I frown down upon individuals who have become addicted to the Devilish influence of narcotics: meth, heroin, cocaine, alcohol, tobacco, marijuana. I hate them. Fat people, homeless people, people who don’t take showers, anarchists. I look at these people and I yak silently inside my mouth. I can taste the wretched stench of mold in the air. Something that gives off the aroma of the ghetto.
But I have been given a chance by God to renew my soul and to take off my elitist goggles. Not everyone has the choice to never take that first hit on the pipe. Some people are forced into it. Some people get into it so early in their life, that they can never stop. Some people start smoking or chewing or drinking so early on, they can’t stop themselves when they reach my age.
I have to learn to live with others, no matter how flawed they are.
I also have to learn to live with the Vatican, no matter how flawed it is.
When the time is right, God will see it fit to alter the Catechism of the Catholic Church to allow gays their rights to marry and raise children. I know this in my heart. Presently, however, the Church has its hands full with the straits.
Why do so many people in this country divorce? Or have children when they are not married?
I know for certain that growing up in two households with two parents who lashed out at each other my whole childhood was rough. The problem might very well be attributed to the fact that my father had not been to church in a LONG time when I was born. He had no consideration of his soul when he was in copulation. I can’t really say much about my mother in this regard, I never asked her as many questions.
Where am I now? What did this retreat do for me?
I was able to understand once again that I am not alone in my struggles with God. There are individuals, people with deep-seated troubles who are very similar to myself.
One person had formerly given up her entire life – her name, her job, and her college plans – to join a convent, only to realize that the life wasn’t for her. One person had formerly been so addicted to weed that he once rolled a joint using a page from the bible. One person had been so addicted to sex that she can’t even remember the names of some people she slept with, and not all of them were guys.
God reached into each of these people’s lives and changed them, altered them, morphed them into what they are today.
CS Lewis once wrote:
“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
I am normal. I am a human being. Before I go off rushing to serve the Lord in a foreign country, the first thing that I must do is remodel the house right here.
St. Maximilian Kolbe, pray for me.