Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fiddler on the Roof

In one of the most heart-rending scenes from Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye meets his daughter Chava in the field and battles with whether to accept her elopement with a Christian boy or remain faithful to his tradition. When Chava asks him to accept her marriage, Tevye ponders the coices.

“Accept them? How can I accept them? Can I deny everything I believe in? On the other hand, can I deny my own daughter? On the other hand, how can I turn my back on my faith, my people? If I try and bend that far, I’ll break. On the other hand… No! There is no other hand.” And Tevye walked away from Chava in a rage, leaving her crying in the field.

At one point in my legionary life, I too was disinherited.

Dirty snow still lined the drive of the house where it had been plowed into mounds after a winter of frequent storms. I walked in what seemed like a very normal spiritual direction, except that this time he called it a conversation. Something strange was happening. Spiritual direction, or the conversation, ended abruptly and without the conclusions that you would normally expect. I was not to continue in the Legion, and I was not given a reason why. I walked away making it clear I was not willing to accept this decision.

At the time I was a religious, having made my perpetual profession, but was not yet a priest. I would need to write a letter to the Holy Father asking to be released from the vows. I would not be expelled. The weight of responsibility rested sparely on my shoulders. And yet, I had no basis to grapple with this responsibility. Surely if I had received a sound reason, I would gladly leave. But faced with silence I responded with silence.

I began to realize the Legion was ill, and like so many, faced with a terminal disease, I was in denial. I had gambled my life on following Christ. I had stepped up to the table, and having been dealt the first hand, wagered it all – all in. I had left everything behind, and unlike Judas who separated himself and betrayed his Master, I was being separated from the disciples in the name of the master.

From that spring day until the day I resolved to leave the Legion, my life became as shaky as a Fiddler on the Roof.


  1. I weep for you and pray for you. How many others are there? This is another charity=silence example. No. Charity = Truth.

    God Bless,
    Susan S

  2. This is a road we all have to travel by our own... is a process; it is very sad to hear this things because we should respect and don´t judge the others by what they feel and what they think. I´ll keep you in my prayers...

  3. But you were eventually ordained, correct? What happened? Did you just not do anything, and the director let it go?

  4. "I had gambled my life on following Christ. I had stepped up to the table, and having been dealt the first hand, wagered it all – all in. I had left everything behind..."

    Some day, Father, I hope you can go back and read your words with clearer eyes. You did leave everything and give your all to Christ.

    The problem was that those who formed you were themselves deformed and had goals that were not of Christ. It takes a strong man who yearns to hear God free from other's corrupting influence to break free.

    Be free, Fr. Jack. You will be able to see more clearly once you have experienced true freedom.


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