God: To Be Needed & Wanted in the Modern Age


Addressing spiritual physics: so little attention is shown to spiritual matter, and spiritual acceleration. In spiritual physics, spiritual matter becomes a burden, with the acceleration of time.

“In an age when we can do almost anything, how do we decide what we ought to do? In a time when we can do anything technologically, how do we decide morally what we never should do?” -Cardinal Joseph Bernardin

“‘In India, the work satisfaction is different,’ Fr. Jolly Vadakken said, ‘Our ministry is so much wanted here. The people come close to us.’”

Fr. Jolly Vadakken “prefers to stay at home where he runs a Catholic resources center across the street from the diocesan pink cathedral in Irinjalakuda, he buzzes around the diocese on a motorcycle, often in his cassock, his cellphone ringing incessantly. He operates a suicide hot line (Kerala has one of the highest suicide rates in India), counsels couples, teaches courses in parenting, and runs a program that mediates local conflicts. He said that he feels “more vital” as a priest in his native India than he did in the United States or Europe, where, he pointed out, he was needed only for the sacraments (as in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, for example, where many of the Catholics are, as Costa put it, “accustomed to multiple Masses”). Tall and prepossessing, Fr. Jolly Vadakken is a spiritual giant. He had studied in Rome, has worked in parishes in Germany, Minneapolis, and Birmingham. Fluent in five languages, he had offers to work as a parish pastor in Italy and Atlanta. But he preferred to stay home. ‘In the other world, we are official priests.’ Vadakken said, ‘We are satisfied just doing the Mass and sacraments, everything on time, everything perfect. In India, however, the people come close to us. The work satisfaction is different. Our ministry is so much wanted here.’” -Laurie Goodstein in the New York Times on December 29, 2008

Under the burden of legalism, all morality is reduced to a burden. Charity, chastity and temperance become things we have to do rather than what we want to do. Authentic, mature morality is marked by a desire to develop habits of virtue. Moving to the ideal of unconditional love, when a healthy lifestyle becomes something we ‘WANT.’ Charity, chastity and temperance are what we want to live out, not what we do out of fear. Care of the soul was when moral choices move from ‘obligations’ to desires.” – Father Richard Benson

The crisis of religious vocation was about feeling needed and wanted, in a world where egos were too weak. The role of the priest in the United States is one of ritual where the modern parish priest was left to officiated at Mass. Priesthood had become a job that wore a man out, unless he was also wanted. And the people for the most part do not come close to the priest. In the western world.

These priests and nuns today were, in a remake of the Christmas story, putting their deepest part into human form. Spiritual giants, secure enough to be vulnerable. Never before has that vulnerability been more apparent, in the struggle to communicate something about the significance of life and in relationship. With the average age of the American nun now over seventy years old.

When a life became a prayer. But there were not many spiritual giants any more walking amongst us, in the ‘too big to fail’ world. Look at the ego strength in a world with so little true appreciation shown. To a nun for a lifetime of apostolic work? We have given these people too little thanks and praise. Individually. Communally. Certainly by the hierarchy — but mostly from the masses — there was so little appreciation shown. As the priest, the nun, becomes the stranger in the secular world.

“Would it not also have been appropriate to add the words ‘and needed’ after ‘WANTED’?” Fr. Richard McBrien wrote in the National Catholic Reported on January 26, 2009.

Where the work satisfaction in the ministry is different — so much wanted here. When a life-style becomes something that we WANT. When the words ‘and wanted’ follows the needs and desires in daily life for a spiritual life.

A dying breed. The crisis of vulnerability has become more and more apparent, in the institutional struggle over the past decade. When westerners hide their vulnerabilities. In an age when we can do almost anything, in an age when, with a spiritual void, too many religious leaders thought they should get involved in dogmatic issues, over who was the best, rather than concentrate on spiitual matters. How do we reach consensus on what what we ought to do? In what direction were leaders to lead, without many religious leaders addressing spiritual life?

Francis of Assisi, Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux, and John of the Cross had strong egos, were secure enough to be vulnerable, and never needed to protect themselves. These were the spiritual giants. “For so many of us, the bigger problem in our lives, including our spiritual lives, is precisely that our self-image is too weak to allow us to do anything really great. We struggle to be vulnerable, to not be paranoid and protect ourselves precisely because we aren’t secure enough inside. Precisely because we so often feel the need to protect ourselves, because we are weak and because our egos and our sense of self-worth are so shaky.” -Father Richard Benson

Addressing spiritual life: When you come close to people. When you are bonded. When people came close to you. The work satisfaction is different when you come close to people. As stated in that final Bob Ryan column in the Boston Globe. Though it is not the end.

In a ministry so much wanted here, to somehow connect — like with the athletes representing your town. And sticking together like dirt. When it was the journalist who connected you to the team, though not so much a God-awful broadcaster like Dick Bremer.

A fisherman does not want anybody to ever ask about how many fish have been caught if their stringer is empty. In story after personal story, God went about meeting His Chosen People usually in socially and spiritually awkward settings. Like in India, where ‘the people come close to us.’ Like with Abraham, when it came to circumcision. Or when it came to the trip up Mount Moriah, with Isaac. If you ever analyzed the setting of time and place in these stories, with the repeated echo of the question to Adam: “Where art thou, Adam?” In all of the awkwardness of the spiritual physics, with the spiritual burden of spiritual matter, in spiritual matters.

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