Yes, it's incredibly ironic that my last post before not posting for months was about how I should write more often. Of course, that was just before "X", so give me a break. I did, however, want to write a little bit about an event that happened the other day.
Chris and I were asked to be a part of a "pastor's prayer summit", a 3-day retreat for senior pastors and youth workers from the Modesto area. Chris and I know the youth workers well, and we were to facilitate their track of the retreat. I knew only one or two of the senior pastors, though, and had perhaps very briefly met a few of them.
I usually approach situations like these with some trepidation and caution. There are a couple of reasons for this. One is I'm naturally kind of shy. Really I am.
The other is that I became Catholic a few years ago. I'm often found in situations many Catholics would not find themselves in. I walk in evangelical and protestant circles most of the time. Sometimes, when it's discovered that I'm Catholic, I can be met with forceful ignorance (people who don't know anything about anything but think they know everything). Fortunately this rarely happens. More commonly, I may be met with well-intentioned ignorance. This is the person who looks at me and wonders how this nice guy could be a Mary-worshipper. Questions ensue, and if the person is cool I tend to hear "Oh.... I didn't know that" or "No one's every explained that to me." The forcefully ignorant, however, care nothing for facts or understanding you better. They just like being right, and you can only be right if the other guy is wrong by any means necessary. The means necessary for that is to forcefully ignore truth. It's very frustrating.
I don't like to hide who I am or be untrue to myself and my beliefs, but I do proceed with caution. Perhaps I cross myself less noticeably (a little cross on the forehead as opposed to the full "spectacles, wallet, and watch" version). I know it's dumb, but it's me.
So here's me, with 22 evangelical pastors and youth workers. Some know me, some don't. A few know I'm Catholic. All seem to love Gaither-era choruses (for which I also feel a warm nostalgia). They bust them out regularly in the prayer meetings.
Proceed with caution.
I love the disciple John. Recently, I've been developing something in which I present John 13-15 in storyteller form, in the character of John. In the piece, I wear a priest's cleric. Well, I shared this piece with the group one night, and everyone loved it. So, over meals and in conversations with people curious about my inspiration, I share some of my story: I am called to the single life and may one day become an actual Roman Catholic priest.
Word gets out, and one of the pastors, an older pastor, Michael, full of kindness, asks me about it. He says he'd like the group to "pray for you before you go..." I wince for a moment before he finishes his sentence, wondering if it will be prayer for me to be delivered from the Catholic Church or something, "...to bless you in that."
Wednesday morning comes, and as the 20-odd pastors from churches of just about every denomination in town come to the end of their retreat. Pastor Michael announces that he'd like the group to pray for Aaron, who is seeking the Lord regarding a call to the Roman Catholic priesthood. I very briefly share my story, and then am suddenly swarmed by pastors.
I honestly can't remember their specific prayers, because I was simply overwhelmed by the beauty of what was happening. A group of Protestant and Evangelical pastors gathered around a Roman Catholic and blessed him in his calling to the priesthood. Simply incredible.
What will be forever etched in my memory, along with this almost unheard-of laying on of hands, is when Pastor Michael began a rendition of "Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on... Aaron." The beauty of what this awkwardly-phrased rendition of an old gospel song will forever remind me of what love is.
And love expects the best.