A Link in the Chain

“God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.

He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work.

I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments.

Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.” ― John Henry Newman

As those close to me will attest, my vocational journey has not been without twists and turns. Just as anyone who discerns their God-given vocation, there have been moments of great peace and consolation about my future path, while at other times I have doubted everything. Modern wisdom would tell me that I should do this or that because I can be happy or do some sort of good in some particular place. Modern wisdom would also tell me that all of it is up to me, and that I can do what I want, because it is, after all, my life.

But for those that truly try to follow Him, and live our lives according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we know that everything is not always about us. In fact, anything is rarely about you or me. In the end, it all leads back to Him.

So if finding one’s vocation is not simply about going where one feels most “happy”, then what is it? First, I think we need to realize that in the contemporary sense, happiness is often just a fleeting feeling or surge of emotion. In reality, true happiness, true joy, the eudaemonia of Aristotle perhaps (actually, much much more), resides in something outside oneself: to find his or her vocation, a person must search for where God is calling him or her to serve both Him and their fellow human being. But here’s the best part of it all: even if we don’t realize it at first, seeking one’s vocation in this manner will provide more happiness and contentment than one could possibly imagine, much more than simply seeking that path in life where they think they will do the most good or experience the greatest benefit (although discernment still contains an aspect of those things)!

Sometimes the path ahead is hidden from us. That’s O.K.; there is a purpose in that as well. When the path is hidden, we are still called to seek where we are to serve in the little matters of life, where we are called to give glory to Him in our daily actions. The kind ear lent to a co-worker, the helping hand at the after-school function, assisting a homeless person in finding a meal, or spending some time in prayer and conversation with Him: all of these are aspects of seeking His will, and in the end will serve as sign-posts for the larger direction that we are called to take.

The path will not be easy. There will be twists. There will be roadblocks. There will be naysayers. We may lose friends, or feel desolate. As long as we remember to trust Him, and remember always that “He knows what He is about”, we will come to the unremitting peace and contentment of finding Him in our lives.

Pax et bonum.



My heart goes out to those affected by the destruction caused in the wake of the Oklahoma tornadoes.

How do we explain such unspeakable disaster? The truth is, we can’t, not really. Not on this side of eternity, anyway. From a Christian perspective, we know that God brings good out of all things. Even so, sometimes we simply cannot explain what happens. When that’s the case, we help where we can and, most importantly, we pray.

Pray for all those affected by the devastation, and if you can, lend a helping hand. Catholic Charities is a good place to start. Here are some other ideas as well.

Pax et bonum.

Say Yes!

“The saints were not abnormal beings: cases to be studied by a ‘modernistic’ doctor. They were — they are — normal: of flesh, like yours. And they won.” -St. Josemaria Escriva

I often look at the example of the saints and wonder to myself, “How in the world can I live up to Francis? Or Benedict? Or St. Therese? Or Pope John Paul II? Or St. Josemaria? Or, or, or…” What I forget though, and I think many others forget this as well, is that the saints were normal people. Think about it: St. Jerome, one of the most prolific scripture scholars in the history of the Church, got up in the morning like anyone else, and probably had an established routine that consisted of little quirks and habits, just like we all do. In fact, knowing his personality, Jerome  probably wasn’t the most cheery fellow in those early hours. Mother Theresa rode in cars, trains, and planes. St. Francis walked on his own two feet, doing the literal work of rebuilding the Church with his own two hands. Blessed John Paul II dealt with aches, pains, and later in life tremendous suffering, just as so many other people do throughout the world. So what’s the difference?

They said yes. Yes to Grace. Yes to His plan. Yes to joy, abandonment, suffering, and the unremitting fulfillment that comes from following God alone. They weren’t perfect. Some were cantankerous. Others had bad habits. Still others were forgetful, or had other flaws that undoubtedly grated on peoples’ nerves. They came from all walks of life. They were normal people, just like you and me.

But along with all of that, they were open to the action of Grace in their lives.

So how do we find what we are supposed to say yes to in the first place? How do we follow Grace? That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it?! But you know what, even in my stubborn hardheadedness, I have found that it doesn’t have to be so complicated. Saying yes can be as simple as the kind act of opening a door, helping someone in need, doing some unseen act for the benefit of another. These smaller “yeses” will help when it comes time to give a bigger yes, a bigger commitment.

So meditate, ruminate, and mull over St. Josemaria’s words above. Remember that the saints were sinners just like you and me. Just as the saints were all sinners, flawed human beings, we all have the capacity to be saints. The road may be tough, but He is always there with us. I will leave you with some words from Fr. Paschal Cheline, a Benedictine monk and beloved mentor from Mount Angel Seminary:

“Get on the road, where you know it is (and you know the conclusion) and don’t get off. Now, you may rest a awhile, you may go to this side or that side a little bit, but don’t get off the road because you know that road is leading you where you want to go and where you should go. If you get off the road, which could happen, well, get back on! Don’t let your life fall apart! Grab your life and live it! I think that’s what God wants and I think that’s what holiness is.”

Pax et bonum.