Tuesday, April 4, 2017
I was reading a story about a young woman who thought marriage would cure her drinking problem. You laugh. I did not laugh. You see, I thought that by becoming a priest I would cure my partying. I believed that when I left my bachelor life in San Francisco and entered the seminary I would not drink. It worked, but it took twelve years. And it was not the priesthood that did it. But it helped. Why did I not drop the priesthood solution when it did not work? A good question since that was a rather radical solution anyway. What happened, to keep me in seminary and priesthood, was that from time to time I would actually, somewhat selflessly, help someone who was struggling with their own life. I liked doing this. Why? Empathy. I connected to their pain. I know priests you can contact because you are struggling, and they won't even call you back. They don't have a drinking problem. My heart is what saved me. It connected with some of the miseries of others. These suffering people were not so much a burden for me, as my lifeboat. They gave me hope that I was in the right place even if my original reasons were insane. Whereas a priest might try to focus on getting a girl to go to church or know her catechism, or live a good moral life, I would connect with her loneliness, self-doubt, and anxiety. Fortunately, most of them did not know that I was sicker than they. So don't worry if you think you are a little crazy. Pray that your heart is right.