It has been far too long since I have posted anything here. I have not forgotten about you all, so here goes:
Maybe it is fitting that I should return to writing on the world day of prayer for vocations. I don’t know about you, but the last one of these was rather recent. Wasn’t there a local conference vocations day a few months back? Apparently, the fourth Sunday of Easter has held this title since 1964.
I felt encouraged by Pope Benedict’s prayer intention for this month, which is something like lay people orientate their prayer and actions to support and foster vocational discernment to the priesthood, relgious and consecrated life. At the end of this year’s message for the world day of vocations, Pope Benedict encouraged:
Dear friends, do not become discouraged in the face of difficulties and doubts; trust in God and follow Jesus faithfully and you will be witnesses of the joy that flows from intimate union with him. Imitating the Virgin Mary whom all generations proclaim as blessed because she believed, commit yourselves with every spiritual energy, to realise the heavenly Father’s plan of salvation, cultivating in your heart, like her, the ability to be astonished and to adore him who is mighty and does great things, for Holy is his name.
Please read the whole message; it is full of great depth, and can be of interest to you all as ever with the Holy Father’s writings.
This last week saw the penultimate set of interviews concerning my application for priestly training for my diocese. This time, I was visiting a relatively well-known Catholic-based ‘place of wellness’, for which one can read a psychological institution. As a result, they were the most draining. I felt alright while there, though the interviews themselves were a bit unnerving. It is not natural to go to a large house for a couple of days and be asked by the psychologists everything – and I mean everything – about me since before I was conceived. The results showed I was guarded; am I the the only one who thinks that this is bound to be the case in that situation? They kept pointing out that it is difficult to lay yourself out before strangers (in my view, it is difficult enough before friends), but went ahead all the same.
I expected all the questions, as I had been given a booklet to fill in a while before I arrived. It was all very straight forward and simple. However, I was very quiet on the journey back, and didn’t get much sleep that night. I am only in my twenties, but apparently, a selection of psychologists trawling selectively through my experiences – which, for some reason, all seemed trauma-inducing to them – left me feeling very uneasy, as if I had re-lived all those experiences in a matter of three days. It was thoroughly exhausting, and I wouldn’t recommend it lightly!
However, there was some entertainment while there. This came in the form of computerised personality tests. It involved answering true or false or strongly agree etc to various statements – I think something around a thousand in total! – ranging from “I like flower arranging” to “God hates me” and “Sometimes, I secretly get the urge to hurt my loved ones”. Well, I do like flower arranging, and God doesn’t hate me, and I very rarely get the urge to inflict pain on anyone!
The results from these various tests were a bit confusing, seemingy suggesting that I am both ‘A’ and ‘B’, or everything all at once: angry and calm, happy and said, anxious and relaxed. Basically, I am human.
So these results are being sent off to the vocations director, who will pass them onto the bishop. He will then read the report (hopefully in not too much depth!), along with anything the selection conference suggested (I’m thinking it can’t be that bad, if I have made it this far already), and his own views about me from the times we have met and talked, my references and, importantly, through prayer and prayerful deliberation. In about a week and a half, I shall sit before the bishop, and he shall tell me what he thinks. As I am frequently told, ‘it is just a formality’. That is quite right. But this formality is quite important. It formally tells me something which I don’t know yet: yes or no (or possibly, yes, but not right now). This is quite important information for me to have really! At the moment, I feel remarkably relaxed about it (as my psychological report predicts), but that may all change as the appointment time approaches. I have to get the bus to the episcopal residence, but I’m promised a lift back with the vocations director. I’m sure when my anxiety becomes more pronounced, I shall write a bit more on ‘how I’m feeling’.