Sunday, August 18, 2013

Life in Eden—and "Life on the Rock"

Looking for my upcoming personal appearances? Click here!

With "Life on the Rock" hosts Doug Barry and Father Mark Mary, MFVA, after taping an interview for the show Aug. 15 (airing Sept. 15)

As I prepare to begin a new semester in my studies toward a sacred-theology licentiate (the last prerequisite I need before I can officially be a candidate for a sacred-theology doctorate), I would like to take a moment to thank you who have supported me in my apostolate and share with you my latest personal news:

  • I wrote to you a few months ago that I was having an operation to straighten my "lazy" left eye. With the help of your prayers, the operation went very well. As you can see from the photo above, my left eye is red, but it is looking straight and is enjoying more peripheral vision than before.

  • Apart from going to school, going to Mass, and spending time with friends, my favorite pastime is visiting the Jesuit cemetery at Georgetown University. I make this pilgrimage every week in honor of my beloved late mentor Father Francis Canavan, S.J. While there, I pray for Jesuit Holy Souls; for all living Jesuits, whether current or former; and for all students, faculty, and staff at Jesuit schools.

    At the Jesuit section of St. Louis's Calvary Cemetery, I paid my respects to Father Daniel A. Lord, S.J., Father Edward Dowling, S.J., and their companions in January 2011. Photo by Mark S. Abeln.

    When I visited the Georgetown Jesuit cemetery yesterday, I thought about how I have spent more than a day of my life in prayer there (and another several days walking there and back). It seemed to me that since I am visiting Georgetown University on a weekly basis anyway, it would be a good thing if I also reached out to living Jesuits, especially the old and infirm. So, this evening, I wrote to a Georgetown Jesuit I know, asking if the Jesuit infirmary might be able to use me as a volunteer. Please pray for God's will for this intention, as it would be meaningful to me to honor Father Canavan in this way, and no doubt the experience of volunteering would be personally enriching. (There are, of course, other homes for the aged in the area, and I have visited three of them, but I think I would most enjoy visiting aged Jesuits.)

    [Update: Just after posting this, I heard back from the Georgetown Jesuit. He thanked me for my offer, but said they had recently closed the infirmary and assisted living area of the community, so the older and infirm Jesuits are now housed in the Society's new facility in Baltimore. He also asked me to keep them in my prayers, which of course I will—please join me in that intention.]
  • In terms of planning for my future and for my vocation, the most important thing to me right now is to continue studying towards a doctorate in sacred theology, in the hope that I may be a professor one day. This is important to me because it is my hope that the Lord wants to bring me vocational fulfillment as a professor. It is also important on a prudential level, because I am about to turn forty-five, am a cancer survivor, and need to get the education that will best enable me to provide for myself as the years progress. Thankfully, the Lord has given me great health, but the bout with cancer made me cognizant that I will not always be able to withstand the pace of graduate studies—plus every year I am in school means more student-loan debt. So I am working as hard as I can to complete my studies as quickly as possible, to get qualified to teach on the university level and learn what Divine Providence has in store for me next.

    Perhaps now you can see why I really need my visits to the Jesuit Holy Souls every week. On the one hand, many of the men buried at the Georgetown Jesuit Cemetery received advanced degrees in theology (not all; some were lay brothers or died as scholastics), and many of those received schooling far more rigorous than mine.

    (Which reminds me of a story Father Canavan told me about his first day of class at Duke University, where the society sent him for doctoral studies in the mid-1950s:

    "The young lady who was seated next to me informed me that her daddy was a vice president at General Motors.

    "I tried to think of an appropriate response. So I told her that I had just graduated from a school where all the courses were taught in Latin, and all the exams were given in Latin.

    "And she said to me, 'That is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.'")

    Anyway, so, on the one hand, those Jesuit Holy Souls have been there, done that, fought the good fight. I pray for them; once they get to heaven, they can cheer me on as I tread paths they trod.

    And on the other hand, these Holy Souls, being purified, are still in some sense bound by time—as am I. Admittedly, they are not working so much as God is working on them, but they yet have miles to go before they sleep—as do I. So we are really in this race together: they as they prepare for the visio Dei, me as I prepare for my lectio coram. We support and love one another in the Mystical Body of Christ. Blessed be God in His angels and in His saints.
  • I am most grateful for your support, especially your prayers. If you would like to support me in other ways, here is my Amazon Wish List of books that I need for the fall semester. [Update, 8/19/13: What a blessing to find that readers have purchased all the books on my list! Thank you so much for your tremendous generosity! I will remember you with much gratitude as I continue my studies.]
  • Know that I pray every day for everyone who has read my writings or heard me speak. That means you!