I’ve been thinking about the Evangelical Counsels all morning. I didn’t know why until I reached the pregnancy center where I showed the director my pictures from my vacation. I noticed that I did not take any pictures of anyone or anything else other than The Catholic University of America (CUA) and the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (the basilica). Those two are interconnected. To begin with, they are on the same grounds. You can’t attend school at Catholic University and ignore that basilica. Its presence is formidable.
While I was at CUA, I felt as if I had arrived home. I belonged there. The place was full of memories, good and bad, but they are mine. My daughter’s apartment is not mine and there is nothing of mine in it, except my daughter. I felt no connection there. CUA is definitely home. It was at CUA that I transitioned from adolescence to manhood. Eventually, I had to leave it behind and move along where God called me.
The last place in the world where I wanted to live was South Florida. I had visited here and did not like it for a stay any longer than a week. It’s a different culture. It’s hot and there are no seasons, just dry and rain. It’s in the south, but it is not southern. The dominant culture seems to be very northern. I’m not a water person.
God had other plans. He brought me to South Florida where the Church had a need that I could satisfy. I had the talent, experience, time, freedom and the support necessary to take on the mission. To walk away would have been to say “No” to the Lord.
Obedience is about saying yes to God who speaks through circumstances, the Church, and legitimate authority. Sometimes God asks for that which is hard to give. Just look at Jesus’ in the Garden of Gethsemane. I could not just turn my back on the Church of Miami. God had set everything up.
Poverty is about giving up ownership. We give up material possessions, but it does not stop there. We also give up our wills to God. We give up our opinions and begin to feel and think with the Church. We leave behind significant people in our lives, such as parents and siblings. Most importantly, we give up our home. A Franciscan becomes an itinerant man. Only heaven is home. Every place is on loan for a short time. To visit CUA, walk down memory lane and leave it knowing that I may never see it again was an act of obedience to the will of God and a willingness to freely give up my roots to follow Christ.
Here is where chastity enters the picture. To be chaste is to love with purity of intention, thought, word and deed according to one’s state in life. There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for another. Jesus taught us this with word and example. Leaving home again, experiencing the pain of separation one more time, feeling the excitement of being there and the sadness of leaving is all part of dying. Once again, I was being asked to love without asking for anything in return. That is chastity. Once again I’ve been asked to profess the Evangelical Counsels of obedience, poverty and chastity.
The profession of the evangelical counsels is not a once in a lifetime event. It’s a love story in progress.