We have the world's greatest sonographer! She used to work with my mother-in-law, and now she works for our OB. Well, she's taken a peek at all of our babies before we saw them outside the womb, and we love her! She's the kindest soul, and over the last six years, we've gotten to know her better - always hearing stories of her family and bringing the kids with us to appointments to meet her. Well, we always knew she had a son who was in the seminary, studying to be a priest. However, we had never met him. Imagine my surprise when we went to Mass at a nearby parish one Holy Day to see a very young seminarian giving the homily in place of the monsignor typically doing so. He looked oddly familiar, but I knew I didn't know him. After Mass, I asked his name, and we both smiled then, knowing I knew him and he knew us. It was Shane, our sonographer's son.
We made it a point to go to Mass there a bit more often, and Jeremy and some of the kiddos became regular attendees when Genevieve had to stay home for a few weeks. So, before he finished up his internship (if that's what you call it) in this parish, we wanted to have him out for dinner and an evening. As always, our plans never quite worked out as early as we would have liked, but we did get him out here before he left, and what a blessing it was!
Before he could even get his feet on the ground when getting out of his car, the kids had bombarded him, giving hugs and asking him what made him want to be a priest. They all fought over who could sit by him at dinner and who could ask him the next question (admittedly I was fighting to talk to him, too). And, in the midst of all the craziness that comes with four little ones shouting to be heard, sitting within an inch of his chair, me wondering exactly what his parents did to encourage his discernment, and a baby needing to be fed, he remained at such peace and calmly attended to each of us.
The kids adored him. Honestly, we all did! And, the rest of the evening, I was simply kicking myself wishing we would have had him out sooner and more often.
Why? Because it never hurts to spend time with such holy people...with such good people. Shane, in the little time I've gotten to know him, is heroic. Not in the sense that he is doing anything out of the ordinary in his answer to the calling to become a priest...but in the sense that he is becoming a priest in a time in which we desparately need him to - in which we need godly men to say yes. I sat in awe of his apparent faith, his peace in his calling and his love that radiated from every ounce of his being.
And as I sat there, I prayed that my boys would see in him an example of faithfulness and heroism. In asking him what his parents did to provide a home in which he felt comfortable answering this call, he said they always prayed with him, that their marriage and faith was the ultimate example, and that every night his sweet mom would pray that each of her children, along with her and her spouse would continue God's mission in whatever capacity He asked.
I can imagine that with whatever pride that comes in knowing your son (or daughter) has chosen to serve God via the religious life, there also comes worry...maybe imagining that life as a sometimes lonely one, and an often difficult one. One in which a parent probably has to let go a bit more than they would if their children chose a different path. I know none of this, but I imagine I might feel somewhat this way if any of mine chose the religious life. But, I also believe it would be such a beautiful thing to witness, even if bittersweet in this world.
I asked because I want to provide an atmosphere in my home to encourage my children to ask God if he wants them at His service in religious life...if he wants their vocation to be marriage...basically to ask Him what He wants of them and then to accept it with an open heart.
Shane and his sweet momma have been an example of heroic love for us, and I pray we raise little ones who will be equally heroic in continuing His mission regardless of their vocations.