Sometimes I feel as if the next two weeks will definitively kill something in me. You may or may not know what I mean. I am about to retire from pastoring, for good.
As a pastor-convert, I feel like I’m giving up something major, something essential to me sometimes. I feel like my pastorate’s end is something I am partially unprepared for. Having a title isn’t where it’s all at, but it’s a bit strange no longer having an official title two weeks from now. It’s about the type of relationships I guess I am not entirely comfortable with losing, at times. I mean, I know what I’m about, it just makes me thoughtful.
I have answered the Church’s call, I am coming home despite my lack of foresight into what is to come. I am uncertain what my future holds in regards to where I will serve in the Church. I have been looking into both Opus Dei and the Knights of Columbus as places where I might plug in after confirmation. I’d love more info if anyone can offer me some good leads.
Pastors, protestant and otherwise, people who have been in leadership in evangelical communities might have problems with the transition into the Faith. I want to help you and myself along with these loosely collected thoughts. I offer some advice in dealing with this that have helped me manage conceptually, thus far.
3 things that I have been thinking about recently in regard to my conversion:
Redirecting my pastoral energies
I know that I am overflowing with pastoral compassion and that an energy burns inside me to care for others. I am however going to have to learn about taking this energy and directing it through proper channels. Maybe counseling or teaching are in my future, I do not know. The most appropriate channel will be a developing spiritual life until I have further clarification.
I have been preparing to redirect my pastoral energies for months now, by blogging more, and taking a more active role in my iner-personal life. I have turned to my friends and colleagues for support. I asked my sponsor, (yes, I have one. Yes I know I am a “…grown-ass-man,” as a friend of mine put it; I still wanted a sponsor,) about how he dealt with the transition since he used to be an episcopal priest. He told me to trust the Lord, and let him fulfill pastoral callings in His way, through teaching, and mentoring and maybe someday teaching RCIA and other classes. There are plenty of lay vocations in the church for my skills anyways.
Thinking through Perspective
I had to decide to take upon myself a new set of lenses. I am making a moral and spiritual conversion, not just changing social clubs. This to me means, I am supposed to make a moral and spiritual transformation along the way.
I guess thinking through this I have decided to see all of this as a pilgrimage. From Los Angeles, to Rome. From eclectically mixed protestant multi-denominationalism to the entire wide and deep breadth of the Church’s Tradition. This is what to keep in mind as you make the change.
Remember, it is not easy, it is not always fun. Some converts find ultimate fulfillment, others have harder times, either way, if you’re converting to Catholicism, stand strong, find support, with priests, sponsors, friends, fellow parishioners, the Church Fathers, the Coming Home Network, get assistance, that’s the first thing.
The Second thing is to chill out, and just accept the journey. The journey home is as beautiful as the destination. The anticipation of the Eucharist is just as important as your first communion. Just as every love affair has a developing period, take this time to make moral changes and spiritual preparation for your new life. Spiritual disciplines can help you focus on what’s important. If your faith is flagging or you have second thoughts, pray with the Church. If you’re having issues with the rosary, start with the divine mercy chaplet, or the liturgy of the hours. The way we pray is the way we believe, and if we are having problems with faith, we might be flagging in prayer, though this is not always the case.
Finding a New Place in Church Life
Find a new place to plug in.
I am looking into the Knights of Columbus, and Opus Dei, but rest assured I want to take up a weekly volunteer activity, and be involved with parish life. These things will help me temper my conversion fire into a fire that will last a lifetime. Some converts start strong and then flag and flounder into bare minimums. Instead of doing that, spend time with Jesus’ people. Serve, your family, your wives and husbands, your friends, your priest.
Be of service, and you will find the peace of the Lord working through you, and in turn granting you peace. If you seek to gain peace, to gain the abundant life offered by the Church and her sacraments, participate in them frequently. Take up confession weekly, go to more masses, volunteer somewhere. Read the saints, pray with the saints, order your faith in such a way that is begins to shape your everyday, instead of just your Sunday, or your Friday diet. Let Orthodox faith fill your every breath, and let your interior life with Christ be a blessed burden, rather than a simply tiresome one.
Pastors, converts, be at peace, and do not let Church be the only thing in your life. Remember your hobbies, your passions, your interests. Remember beauty, and freedom and love. Remember your families. Remember that even if your spouse is opposed to your conversion, you can still find love in their arms. You can still find peace in interaction with them, through service. If they are radically opposed, you can undo their anger or frustration through humble service. Dear friends, fellow converts, be at peace and know that I am praying for you with all the saints.
Note: Dear friends and readers, if you have Opus Dei, or Knights of Columbus info, or just want to leave general feedback, adoring fan comments, or hate mail that calls me a part of the whore of babylon, feel free.