Wednesday, July 28, 2010

August 12, 2010

I have some pretty good news. I found out yesterday that the Bishop's council meeting has been moved up from August 19 to August 12. There is a very good chance that I will know what parish I will be in even before I return.

I have to admit I am very excited about this. At the same time I am a little bit nervous. I am sure that for the first year or so I will be an assistant pastor, and I don't know who I will be with. I hope and pray that he is a very holy priest. I could use the experience being with a holy man. Even though I have had parish experience, maybe I took those years a little too much in stride. I will certaily be open to learn from this new experiece, and to give what I have learned in the past.

A Very Kind Man

I met a woman named Rose yesterday. I was walking into my mother’s house when she stopped me. She assured me she wasn’t seeking confession, or anything serious like that. But I certainly would have been more than willing to help heal her soul.

It turned out that her husband had worked with my father for thirty-five years. She knew my father and many of his workmates. She described him as a very kind, quiet man; a hard worker who kept to himself for the most part.

All these little tidbits are important to me. I am discovering so much of my own personality in the traits of my parents and siblings. We have the same family history, after all.

As I begin this new journey, everything I learned on my stay here will work together to understand where I come from, what I have inherited from my time in the legion, and what God is expecting from me in the future. It is good to put all of this together in a spirit of prayer and comprehension. After all, I cannot deny all that God has done in me through my family and in the legion. Purification is necessary, as in any personal journey. Let the Spirit burn!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Glad to see it

I read the responsibilities of the Apostolic Delegate and was very happy. Most of all I was glad to see the extent of his authority over every level of the legion. I was also pleased to see that all members of the congregation will be taking an active part in the revision process. My biggest fear was that only the members of a general council would take part. This give me greater peace of mind for all the legionaries I care about.

I realized that when I send my letter asking for a dispensation from the vows, a copy must go to the Delegate. I pray for him, his personal advisers and all legionaries, that they may honestly and sincerely seek the truth.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

My mind is a blank

I am really sorry that I haven't posted anything new lately. The truth is, every time I get on line, I just draw a blank. To tell the truth, I have no desire to look at stuff that's going on in the Legion, the Delegate, etc. I've just had enough. I'll get caught up later, I guess. But at this point it is just not important to me.

It seems that the fresh air, the rest and relaxation, the change of scenery has helped me to purify my mind of the tension. Where I would spend the day going over things in my mind, now I am just able to concentrate on my family and just be with them.

And it's not that I am doing a whole lot. But the change of pace has been fantastic.

I think the purpose of this blog has come to an end. But, who knows. Maybe I will have more to say once I get back and get settled into a parish. I can't wait.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

St Joseph and the Sea

I have been going to St Joseph Parish in the morning to celebrate mass. Fr Bob is great. He has literally opened the doors to me. It’s true. There is a combination lock on the front door he showed me how to open. The church is mine when I want to pray or celebrate Mass. I have been concelebrating with him in the morning.

Today we went to the beach. I had not been there for over twenty-five years. I used to hang out there with my friends. Needless to say, everything seemed so small. It’s that retro look that expects to see everything the way it was before, but it all seems so compressed. I walked the beach in just ten minutes where it used to take hours.

I kept expecting to meet friends. I would imagine what they would look like now, twenty-five years plus down the road.

Sand in my toes and a little bit sunburned, we headed home. I can’t help to praise God in the beauty of his creation: the waves crashing on rocky shores, salt air in your face, sea gulls and the smell of fresh cut grass. I’m loving it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Kayaking on hold

I had great plans to go kayaking with my sister today. But just as were getting ready to go, a server weather warning flashed on the radio. Sure enough, minutes later the wind began to blow and thunder began to echo. We’ll have to wait it out a bit. But that’s ok, it’s just being together that matters.

So, what have I been thinking of lately? Have I been worrying about the legion? Not a chance. But it’s funny, and not at all surprising; I tried to log on to my legionary email today, and it seems to have been shut down. I expected it. But it means they really don’t want to keep me informed or keep in contact with me. Is that typical? Yes. If you aren’t useful to them, why even bother speaking. Before I left last week, one of the priests in the community asked me to write my story and send it to all the other legionaries. He said it would be a great way to open their eyes to what is going on, and might spark others to think seriously about leaving. I guess I won’t get that chance, unless he is willing to send it for me. But he is trying to be careful and bide his time. His story is an incredible one also. But that’s for him to tell.

It looks like the storm has passed. Let’s load up the kayak and head for the river.

===== Update 7/20/2010 =====
Kayaking was great. When the rain stopped we set out. But not too long upriver, it started to rain again. Did we turn back? Not a chance. Onward and upward.

Best of all, once the rain subsided and all was calm, we reached a dam in the river and sat down for lunch. We had a long conversation, and I learned a lot about my sister and her story. It is so interesting - knowing her I know myself.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Click... and it was all over.

As I pulled the front gate to the house shut, and heard the latch click, I walked toward the taxi that was waiting for me, and a sudden emotion came over me – it was all over. I had crossed a threshold I had been waiting for, and had stepped into a new life. Click… and it was all over. It was a liberating experience.

That was Tuesday afternoon. There was no one in the house to give me a ride to the airport, and in the long run, it was better that way. I called a taxi, and left my keys to the house behind. Everything I didn’t want to bring home with me, I left at the rectory of a priest friend. I now consider myself free from the legion.

There is still a long way to go. But I know that I am on the right path.

These are just a few thoughts that came to mind. I haven’t had a lot of time to sit down and write. Mom doesn’t have a computer in the house. I walked over to the public library and am using one here. I love America. Everything is so simple easy. Before coming into the library, I just wandered the streets looking around to see what has changed and what’s the same. I’m loving every minute of it. I’ll try to ramble on again soon.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Last Time...

I have been celebrating a lot of “lasts”. Maybe you have had the experience of moving house, or when you get married, you celebrate the last time you do things in the old house or as a single. I had my last supper, slept in this bed for the last time, and soon will walk out this door for the last time.

As a legionary, you move around quite a bit. This isn’t the first time I thought about the last time I do things in a legionary house. But this is different. Now I’m not going from one legionary house to another. I’m leaving. But the journey is not yet over.

I may not be blogging as often as I would like from now on. But I don’t intend on stopping. There is still so much more that has to be done. Certainly I will spend most of my time just being with my family. Each day and every minute will be precious. One thing is for sure; being able to visit more often, this will not be the last time.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Very Long Holiday Indeed

I need a holiday ... a very long holiday
and I don’t expect I shall return ...
in fact, I mean not to. (Bilbo Baggins)

Tomorrow I will be leaving to visit my family. I cannot express how excited I am. I am excited for two reasons.

First of all, it will be a chance to get to know my family members again. I feel so out of touch with them. Sure, we have written, but it’s not the same as sitting down for a long talk. I will also get to know my nieces and nephews. I feel I don’t know them at all. Some are already in college, others in high school. I remember them as small children.

Second, going home for me will be like an unofficial leaving the legion. Sure, juridically, or if you like, legally, I will still be bound to the legion. And that may last for some time. But I don’t intend to return to a legionary center or house. I will do my best to keep in contact with my bishop to see if on returning, I can move into a parish. There are priests here who have told me the door is open whenever I need to. I am seriously thinking of taking them up on it.

At any rate, when I leave tomorrow, I am not going to leave anything behind. I have an open ticket, and plan to leave it as open as possible. Yes, a very long holiday indeed.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Magnificat anima mea Dominum

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord!

I don’t have a lot of details, because the meeting was very rushed, and I wasn’t able to be present. Fr “M” said he would call me to fill me in, but he did mention that it was very positive, and that Bishop “J” asked for a written letter, I guess you could call it a letter of recommendation. With that letter the bishop would write a letter to the General Director of the Congregation and to the Holy Father stating that he is willing to accept me in his diocese. I will post updates as I know more.

Rejoice with me in the Lord!

===== UPDATE 7/9/2010 11:00 AM =====
This morning I spoke to Bishop “J”. Here is an update of what I can expect in the near future.

First of all, the Bishop asked me a few questions to clear up any doubts he had. Secondly, he asked my superiors for a written letter which he will present, along with my letter asking to enter the diocese, before his council on August 19. At that point he will get in contact with me to decide where would be the best place to put me in his diocese.

Next I called my superiors. They confirmed all that the bishop had said and are more than willing to cooperate. Given that there is more than a month to go before the Bishop can move on this, I asked if they wouldn’t mind me visiting my family. The answer was an immediate yes. Hopefully, if all goes well, I will be traveling next week to see them.

Just a few words on what will happen next. The bishop made it very clear that he would be receiving me “ad experimentum”, a period of exclaustration. What does that mean? As all things in the Church, it is a period of prudence where a religious can experience life outside the religious congregation, a period to make sure the decision made by the religious is not a rash decision. It is also a time for the bishop to get to know the priest he is accepting and to better place him in the diocese. During this time I would be juridically bound to the congregation but living as a diocesan priest. At the end of that period, which I imagine would be one year, a formal petition would be made for the dispensation of the vows.

===== UPDATE 7/10/2010 10:00 AM =====
If all goes well, it looks like I will be able to fly out on Tuesday the 13th. The image of mom doing backflips in the comments is priceless.

Father knows best?

I promise to post an update of "The Meeting" this evening. In the mean time, check out Fr. Dwight Longenecker's article on clericalism.

Have you ever been in one of those parishes where 'Father knows best'? It may not be a parish. It may be a diocese or an monastery. When the priest or bishop or abbot is all powerful watch out. Mark Shea writes here on the evils of clericalism, and as usual, he comes at the problem with clarity and charity. His article set me thinking about a whole angle on clericalism which I have never really heard discussed: the psychological... Read more

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Meeting

The meeting of my superiors with Bishop “J” is set for tomorrow, July 8 at 4 PM.
Please keep me in your prayers.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Getting Ready for Transition

There is some concern among readers of this blog, and among family members, for my wellbeing while awaiting the necessary process for the dispensation of my vows. I can understand these concerns, and I can understand how it could appear that I am under a great deal of stress. That is not the case.

My day to day life is not typical for a legionary. I pretty much keep to myself, follow my own daily rhythm, make my own priorities and am, for the most part, left to do as I please. There is a great deal of understanding among the members of my community. This is due, in part, to my honesty with them. Speaking and acting truthfully has been, for me, the most liberating experience of my life.

At the same time, I am getting to know some of the priests in the area. Yesterday I spent the day with a group of 4 priests. We had lunch, browsed through a new bookstore that opened in the area, some went to see Twilight, and then we met up in the evening for a casual dinner in one of the priest’s rectory. It is refreshing to get to know the other side of priestly life, the lives of parish priests who care for their flock, but know how to step back and relax in a healthy, interpersonal way.

Monday, for a priest, is his day of rest. After a week of activities, and an intense weekend of masses, baptisms and weddings, Monday is a day to look forward to.

I have the feeling transition will not be difficult for me. I have been living more outside the legion than in. Sure, physically I am living in a legionary community, but psychologically I am not. It is not an awkward situation, at least not for me.

Meeting with the Bishop

Here is a note I received from Fr. “M”, who will be visiting Bishop “J”. I have been pestering him for a response in the past couple of days. The squeaky wheel gets the oil.

Dear Fr John,
I arrived from Mexico today at midday. I prayed for you at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Bishop “J” has been in seclusion, preparing for his upcoming Ad Limina visit. But it seems he will make an exception and receive me soon. I am awaiting his secretary’s confirmation. As soon as I know, I will get into contact with you.

I can confirm from one of the priests in the diocese here that Bishop “J” has indeed been in seclusion for the past two weeks. If a meeting is set up for this week, hopefully things will begin to move along quickly. I will make sure to bring Fr "M" to the meeting and speak to the bishop at that time. I will propose a nice, long, and well deserved visit home, and then on returning, to move into a parish and begin my transition.

Friday, July 2, 2010

48 Hours (Revisited)

You really have got to love this. You know how I went on a roll about how long it took for my superiors to get back to me about the meeting I had with my bishop? Well, I think I need to give you an update. But first, let’s just get the timeframe into perspective.

June 21 – I met with Bishop “J”
June 22 – I sent an e-mail to DG, DT, Local and one other priest.
June 24 – I posted my “48 Hours” note
June 25 – Local superior spoke to me, 71 hours and 35 minutes. He excused himself saying that it was out of his hands; it was something the major superiors had to handle, but he mentioned a fact which I will speak of below.
June 25 – DT sent an e-mail, 73 hours and 9 minutes. He excused himself saying he was doing a study course and had intensive meetings.
June 26 – DG wrote me. 96 hours and 10 minutes. He excused himself saying he doesn’t always check his personal e-mail account. But he congratulated me for my surrender, for fighting to be a holy priest, and thanked me for all the good I have done.
June 27 – Finally, the other priest I mentioned wrote to me. I’ll let you figure out the hours it took. He, incidentally, will be the delegate DT will send to meet with Bishop “J” next week to discuss my leaving the legion and entering his diocese.

Sorry I went into these details, but I think they are important. You see, when my local superior spoke to me, he mentioned a fact that I was already aware of, but had not posted among the updates. One of the DT’s from the states wrote an e-mail to me saying he had visited one of the bishops I had written to, and this bishop would be open to accepting me in his diocese. It turns out that it is the bishop of my home diocese.

I didn’t think this remarkable at the moment. But let’s put it into perspective. The e-mail from DT in the States was sent on June 24. My superior spoke to me one the following day, and that began a flurry of communication from the other superiors.

Just let me transcribe the first lines of DT from the State’s e-mail. “Last week I had a meeting with Mons. X, Bishop of Y, and during the meeting he mentioned he received your petition, and would like to meet with you…” Last week? Well that’s odd because today, July 2, I received a letter, by mail, from the bishop of my home diocese and, get this; it was dated and post marked June 24, 2010 – the same day that DT from the states wrote me his e-mail.

Well it is obvious to me that the 48 to 72 plus hour period was not spent idle, or in meetings, or whatever. They were diligently working to come up with other options. Why? Damage control, of course. Leaving the legion and moving into the diocese where I am presently working--- I’m sorry ---where I am presently not working, or un-working, or unemployed… Anyway, leaving the legion and moving into the dioceses where I had been working would cause too many ripples in the pool of faithful followers.

Originally I didn’t want to be in a diocese anywhere near the legionaries. But after having been pushed into a quick decision by taking away from me all apostolic work, they are getting what they deserve.

I will definitely make sure I sit down and speak to the priest who will meet with Bishop “J” on the DT’s behalf and find out what he is planning on saying. Heck, I’ll even make sure I drive him to the meeting.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Don't look back

I almost did it – I almost looked back after putting my hand to the plow. Remember in a previous post I said; “From today on my only contact with my legionary superiors will be to insist and encourage them to do their part in the canonical process needed to be gain the dissolution of my vows and incardination in my new diocese.” Well, previously I had sent numerous e-mails trying to provoke a contrite response from my superiors. Yesterday I got a response – just the same ole same ole. But I immediately started to bang out a furious response. Half-way through, that is, I could have gone on writing for hours, I stopped and remembered my promise to myself. What good will it do to continue fighting against the current?

I need to remain focused. Don’t look back.