Speak, for your servant is listening.

(Note to all readers.  Please read my previous blog post The Lord Giveth and the Lord Taketh Away before reading this post.  It is a necessary pre-requisite.)

Some may have wondered why I gave a biblical title to my previous post about losing my reporter job for Cal sports.  The reason for the use of this biblical language for both of these posts is because of the revelation I had last Sunday as I was preparing to be a lector for Mass.

Those who know me well know that as long as I’ve been Catholic, I’ve had what I believe is a calling to be a deacon.  There are a number of requirements for being a permanent deacon (the type I’d be eligible to be).  Many of those requirements have prevented me from applying to be a deacon before 2007, and even this year there is one rule that I’m on the borderline for.

Of course in addition to being eligible, a person must do a lot of pondering and discernment as to whether it is both wise for them and their family in addition to whether God is calling you in that direction.  So for the last 8 years I’ve been praying and discerning.  I’ve talked to existing deacons, others considering the deaconate, friends, family and even a couple of strangers I’ve met at Catholic conferences.

Up until last April, I was fairly certain, in a scared and humbled kind of way, that God was indeed calling me to be a deacon and that I should apply in the spring of 2007, when I first was reasonably eligible for the formation program through the diocese.

Then last April, some minor health issues arose in my family, health issues that will require extra vigilance and dedication for me, likely for the rest of my life.  While this didn’t completely shake my confidence, it did cause me to re-analyze my thoughts on the subject.

The month of November then proved to be a decisive one in this regard.  The reporter job was a minor but significant strain on my family life and it was also a time of bad news at my full-time job.  So when December came around and with it the season of Advent, I spent a great deal of time praying about what to do about being a deacon.  By the end of Advent I had decided to put off being a deacon for a handful of years.

The way I saw it, there was just too much on my plate to add the deacon formation process at this time.  Between family, work, the reporter job and possibly having more children, I just couldn’t see committing myself to being a deacon at this point.  While the calling was still strong, it seemed that I was being pulled in other directions for the time being.  God, it seemed to me, was telling me that it was not quite time for me to be a deacon.

Which brings me back to last Sunday.

I was at home preparing to be a lector for Sunday Mass.  It was a rare morning of silence because my wife and boys were visiting her family for the weekend while I was at home fulfilling other commitments like being a lector.

I had already spent most of the weekend thinking about what my next move was now that I had lost the reporter job.  Focusing on having the strength to proclaim the reading from Philippians just as St. Paul would have wanted it, I thought of the other times I had been asked to proclaim with strength.

At which point my mind snapped to the time I had read at the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral.  The reading was from first Samuel and it was a passage that, both because of the setting at the Cathedral and the nature of the passage, required that I be able to speak with strength the words of God, a prophet and a future prophet in formation.

Samuel, the prophet in formation in the passage, was unsure of the calling of God because, as it says in the passage, “Samuel was not familiar with the LORD, because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet” (1 Samuel 3:7). By the end of the passage, Samuel had been instructed by Eli to properly hear God’s call and the title of this post, “Speak, for your servant is listening” (verse 10), was Samuel’s response.

At that moment it occurred to me that maybe God was trying to tell me something more profound through getting let go from Rivals. Maybe he was telling me that the excuses I had for putting off being a deacon were not valid. Maybe I was turning my back on a higher calling. A big part of the decision to wait was because I knew that the reporter job was something I was only interested in doing for a handful of years. When those years were up, likely God would likely have already given my wife and I all of the children he wanted us to bring into the world. It seemed that all of the timing pointed to waiting that handful of years.

But now all of that has changed. Now I no longer have the distraction of the reporter job. Now, just after the reporter income had paid off the expensive camera I had bought for the job, God had provided a different thought. God provided the income to keep us out of debt, but is he now calling me to something else? Now, in the spring of 2007, when I had always told myself that the time would come to apply for the deaconate, God had cleared my biggest obstacle to being a deacon off of my plate.

I spent all of Sunday praying about this and frankly I am still confused and humbly awestruck at the path God has put before me to travel. While I don’t know where this path leads quite yet, I do know more than anything, that I need to use the remainder of Lent to walk that path and discern whether God is calling me to be a deacon.

I ask for your prayers to help me as I discern God’s will for my life.

Speak to me Lord, for your servant is listening.

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