The Story of a Seminarian from a Mom’s Point of View by Amy V.

One of the best things about this blog is that it provides a place for parents to be brutally honest with how they feel as they watch their son go through discernment. Parents who read these portrayals realize they are not alone.  Every parent knows that it is not about them, but they still need a place to express overwhelming feelings both positive and negative during the process.

Below is a exert from a post on Amy V.’s blog: about her son’s journey of discernment and entering the seminary. The heart wrenching feelings of love, fear and worry are detailed in an honest portrayal of a mother trying to learn to let go of her son to many unknowns. Since the author included her son’s picture on this blog post, I will include it in this post.

If you would like to read the entire blog post click here:HERE for the site Catholic


July 30, 2014

by: Amy V.

We wanted our son to know that even though our hearts overflowed with love for him, God loved him even more. We enjoyed researching, reading, and talking about different ideas to teach him the truths of our faith and to try to prepare the garden of his heart to receive the love of God.

young priest2

One of the ways God showed His love to our son was through the presence of an amazing new priest.  Our son started seeing priests as men who were fully alive and full of joy and men who cared about the small things, like talking to a 9 year old about which Harry Potter book is the best. We never prayed for our son to be anything in particular, but we prayed that he would know, love, and serve the Lord.

When he was in middle school, priests would ask him if he had ever thought about being a priest someday. He hated when people asked him this and from about 8th grade until 11th grade he started saying, “No way!”  My son loved being Catholic, and since he attended a public school, was always looking for ways to defend his beloved faith. So, right before his senior year in high school, my son felt very strongly that the Lord was confirming in his heart a call to discern the Catholic Priesthood with a deliberate and an intentional heart.

mom cringingAt first, he told everyone, and I cringed. “Not yet,” I thought, “Not yet. Don’t tell people yet.” That year, after his initial zeal, I think he felt like maybe God was chaining him in and the only way God would be happy is if he succumbed to the chains. Time passed, he finished high school and went to college, and during this past year the Lord relentlessly pursued him. Slowly, sometimes painfully, and sometimes full of joy, he began to see his calling as an invitation, not a chain. The Lord was offering him a gift.

So what do you say to your son when you know he is seriously worried-mother1discerning this life’s vocation? There is such a fine line. While you want to be supportive, you don’t want to be too excited and honestly, you worry. The life of a priest is not easy, and your son is saying, “Yes, I will consider this completely counter cultural life.” I’ve learned that when a young man chooses to open his heart up to discern the will of the Father in this way, that young man will suffer vicious attacks from the evil one. I’ve learned that moments of consolation can be followed by moments of fear and sorrow over what is being given up.

I’ve learned that people will not hold back what they think of this vocation, for good and for bad. And yet, how proud am I? My child is willing to say, “Yes!” to consider taking up the cross of my Lord, and follow Him. He is willing to sell all he has for the pearl of great price. But if he changes his mind, I want him to know that’s ok. That means it wasn’t his calling.

Mary and baby Jesus

Jesus, I trust in You. That’s all I can say. I love my son, but I love You more. I want Your will for his life, whatever that is. This is so not about me, but I feel like when he is suffering with this decision, a sword is piercing my heart too. Mother Mary, pray for me to be strong like you. Mother Mary, how did you let Him go? Mother Mary, how will I let my son go? I love you, my son. The world is hurting and needs you to show them the way. If you don’t, who will? Who loves people more than you? Who has a smile like you that brings light to the darkest places?

Amy V's seminarian sonLast month I had this notion that I needed to go see the seminary where he was going to be staying. I needed to see if he should bring Tide HE or regular Tide for crying out loud. Due to various circumstances, the Lord said no to this notion. My son has already seen the seminary and he has made this choice himself. He didn’t need his mom going there and hovering. So the Lord showed me, “This is not your journey, this is his. Walk with him, but trust Me and honestly trust your son.”

I cried very hard that day.divine_mercy_78_f_small

There are so many unknowns still, but there is peace because I know he is where God is calling him. When he looks back on his life, the Lord has been calling him for a long time. My son has a heart for the Lord.

God help me to keep walking with him and encouraging him. Help me, dear Lord, as my heart is sad sometimes because my world is changing. It is changing for the better, but it is changing.

Please know the authors of this blog pray daily for parents of discerning sons & daughters to find understanding & peace.

Sad News

Tuesday, while busy at work, I received an unexpected call from Evan.

“Hi Evan, what’s up?”

“My friend Doug died.  They just called to tell me.”

That morning on the news, I’d heard about an accident at Utah State, but the student’s name hadn’t resonated with me.

The media reported his real name — Eric — not the name he’d been given by his circle of friends — Doug.

“We called him that because we decided there were too many Erics in the world and he looked like the cartoon character,” Evan explained.

Doug was part of the group that Evan ran with at Utah State.  They were close friends who supported one another through school and life and developed a tight bond.  And now one of them was gone.

Evan felt the loss deeply and had already been given permission to return for the weekend for the funeral.

“You’re part of a community back there,” I said.  “Embrace them and let them support you.”

And the Paulist community did, indeed embrace Evan.  They modified the retreat to include a prayer service for Doug (from the Paulist prayer book).  They have supported Evan and helped him with ground transportation.

Once Evan had the time for the funeral, we set about arranging his air travel.  Given that it was the Wednesday before a holiday weekend and Evan had to leave from Albany and return to New York, I was not optimistic about finding available seats.  Praise God, Expedia coughed up a flight that matched Evan’s scheduling and geographical requirements.  We booked it and sent him the confirmation.  He’ll be arriving late tonight and leaving early Monday.

This experience, too, is part of Evan’s formation.  I’ve been reading Just Call Me Lopez (a sort of novel that serves as an introduction to the life of St. Ignatius and Ignatian Spirituality) and I was struck by this passage from the introduction:

Miracles so often happen in the midst of brokenness, inadequacy, and failure. In fact, those experiences would seem to be God’s preferred location for the work of transformation.

So I pray.

I pray for Eric and his family.  I pray for Evan and all of Eric’s friends and ask God to use this experience to let them feel the embrace of His love.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. Requiescat in pace.

Edit: Forgot to mention.  Please join us in praying for Eric and his family and, if you want to express your condolences please click here to access the obituary and guest book.


Last Things

eschatologyToday’s vocabulary word is eschatology.  That’s the theological study of “last things” like death, the afterlife, eternity and the end of time.  Hang on to that tidbit, you’ll need it in a minute.

A little over a year ago, Evan’s Vocations Director, Fr. Dave, came out to visit Evan and to meet with us.  We fell to talking about the coursework Evan would have to complete in order to graduate in the spring of ’13.  By dint of hard work (including a summer semester after he changed majors and an insanely challenging semester with 18 credits) he was very, very close.  There was still a chance that he might not graduate.  In order to earn his degree, he choose one of two mandatory classes — and it wasn’t clear that either of them was going to be offered during the year.

“That’s metaphysics and eschatology, right?” I asked.

“No dad,” he said.  “It’s metaphysics and epistemology.”

“Oh.  Right.  EpistemologyEschatology will be one of the last things you’ll study.”

Theology puns.  Does it get any better than that?  (Yeah, probably, but thank you for indulging me by reading that.  The rest of this will be more serious, I promise.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about endings lately.  Evan is leaving.  As Cathy noted, she’s left her career in medicine and moved on to new challenges.  A good friend just lost her adult son to cancer.  It seems to be a season of endings for us.

We’ve been preparing with lots of “lasts” and last minute preparations.  (Which is, in part, why we’ve been so scarce in this space the last couple of weeks.)

When it opened, the boys and I went to see Elysium.  (Capsule review; don’t bother.)  Since the boys have moved out, the three of us have met from time-to-time for dinner and a movie.  I’ve always enjoyed those as I’ve learned how to relate to my sons as adults.  I suspect I’ve not always done a good job of working out this new relationship, but it’s been good getting to know them in a new and different context.

I’m going to miss having those “guys nights”.

A week ago Tuesday, we had Fr. Clarence over for a last dinner with Evan.  Ian, our oldest, was able to join us as well so we had the whole family together for a meal with our parish priest.  He told us about his vocational discernment, his years with the Peace Corps in Lesotho, the importance of myth and storytelling and his advice on entering the seminary.  (Make sure you have a good spiritual director.)

On Wednesday last week we attended the vigil for the Feast of the Assumption and Evan went with us.  That’s the last Mass we’ll share with him for a while.  When the Mass was done he spent a few minutes visiting with people in the parish whom he has known for years and who have been encouraging during this phase of his discernment.

Tuesday evening we had a family dinner together with both boys and my mother.

And, of course, on Wednesday morning (at an abysmally early hour) we said good-bye and sent him off on the plane to D.C.

We’re hardly the first family bid a child farewell.  Every day families send their sons and daughters off to college, to the military, to various kinds of service and education and employment in distant places.  Yet, this is a first for us.  Even though they moved out, both boys have been relatively close to home.  And, as Fr. Clarence pointed out, Evan’s community will become his family now in a profound and important way.

It’s surprisingly tough to see him go.  I’ve passed the last couple of weeks in a sort of anticipatory melancholy which balances my hopes for his on-going discernment process against the reality of his departure.  As they say on the internet, I’m feeling all the feels.

I’m proud of him, of course, and wouldn’t want him not to go.  At the same time I’ll miss having him close by.  I take comfort in the fact that this ending is also a new beginning.  It is not so much a season of endings, but rather a season of change in our lives.  And I look forward to seeing what other changes God has in store for us.

— Dad

Change of Life Indeed

160px-Stack_of_coins_0214I have always joked with the adage “If you are going to go, go big”. Didn’t mean to do it quite to this degree in my life.

Evan leaves this week and that alone is a major life change. Fr. Clarence (our parish priest) mentioned to us that although other people have children move away, this is different. The largest difficulty that our priest’s family experienced was that he was no longer available for time normally considered family times (Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) Evan is now, as Fr. Clarence was then, joining a new community, a new family. And effectively leaving our family. Just as Hannah prayed for Samuel and then gave him to the Lord (Samuel 1:27-28), so too, I prayed for Evan and now must give him to the Lord. NOT EASY. I admire Hannah but don’t feel as sure as she was. Guess I have to work on that. Pray for me.

I’m experiencing another change; the one most commonly associated with the phrase “the change”. After almost 28 years of marriage using natural family planning (sympto-thermal method) I am officially post menopausal. For those who are familiar with the method, this now means that we are now permanently post ovulatory. Quite a change after two years of almost constant pre-ovulatory rules. I am probably one of the few people I know who has undergone a natural path to menopause and I know I am the only person of my acquaintance who couldn’t wait to be post menopausal. I have always loved the method and glad my husband and I practiced it. I think it made us closer. I do wonder how long till I stop checking my “symptoms”. I thank the Lord that I married a man brave enough and confident enough in our love to practice our faith together in all aspects of our lives.

And just because I don’t have enough stress in my life (or maybe because I do) I quit my career of 28 years as a clinical laboratory scientist. I spent 24 of those years were at the same laboratory. I have been feeling called to something and praying desperately for guidance. I was presented with an opportunity to assist with formation at our church. My career would not allow me the time or freedom to really involve myself. My husband and I worked at me finding alternate employment that would allow me an out with enough income to not stress us in a new way. I have become the print-shop assistant at  The Davis Applied Technology College. The same place my husband works and where I did a two year stint as a night phlebotomy instructor.  (Insert your own vampire joke here.)

I know the people at the college as friends already, and love being creative and working with big machines. It is a perfect fit. The salary is a third that of my prior job but my (wonderful) husband and I looked over the budget and decided to cut some and make the leap. I will not miss the stress of my former job; you can only worry about life-altering consequences of your actions so long. I will miss terribly all the phenomenal friends that I will no longer see on a regular basis. I cried as I cleared out my locker after the wonderful “so long” party all my co-workers gave me.

Now for the next phase. New physical conditions, new family conditions, new work conditions, new volunteer conditions, same glorious husband, same loving Lord. Thank you Lord

– Mom