[note-this is my week 4 reflection, posted early! leave it to the writer.]
I don’t know if I want to be a single woman in the Church because this is really the best way to be a writer, or if I just haven’t given the institutional Church the chance to love me into life.
The reason being a priest appeals to me is because practicing the sacraments is so beautiful. To be married to God in such a physical, tangible way seems like a real marriage to me. To participate in Jesus’s ministry of healing would be so incredible. I want to be his hands.
Another part if it is the way that priests seem empowered to me. You’re Henry Nouwen and you want to write. Great! You’re Father John Dunne and you want to be a mystical professor. Perfect! Your success is our success.
Or maybe I really am a liberal nun, and I’ve never given the feminist orders a chance to woo me and say, “We’re your sisters and we’ve got your back. We’re going to empower you, girl. You want to write? You go for it!”
I want to follow Jesus more closely and know Holy Spirit more intimately. I know that this is mystery. I know that it is loneliness and deep companionship. I know that being a baptised Catholic empowers me. I know that I have concrete invitations to ministry in my local parish. I know that Jesus offers me his love right now, even though I’m not in an order.
I know that I could be a mom, married with kids, and still write somehow (even though that seems scary). I do not know that I could be a sister and live MY relationship with God, because this relationship is spontaneous. Holy Spirit and I choose books together and get lost in them. We go places together. We have this whole brainspace thing. Seems like community life to this degree (monks, nuns, sisters) is not for me, unless the order allows you to enter your own brainspace through following what you need to do each day in Holy Spirit.
For a few years I thought I would need to give up my spontaneous and deep-brainspace life, and that was “being fully given.” It was good to try it out and it was good to lose it.
At the same time, I still feel uncomfortable with “just being a writer” and living in this space exclusively. I know that ministry is a part of my life. I want to be Jesus’s hands and I want to experience him in others.
Maybe being a part of the charismatic community will be my priesthood. In the charismatic community, healing and prophesy are ministries for the Church. It’s not the sacrament of reconciliation or anointing, and it’s not preaching, but it’s something I may feel even more called to than literal priesthood (which I am attracted to but wouldn’t say is a call, at least not now.)
There’s still the problem of who you love and who your life is given to. Is it possible to be happy outside of community? Will I be single, and community always be pieced together—what I can find this year? Connecting with religious orders as a tertiary, or with married friends as an auntie to their kids, or with single friends as…friends? With my parish as a supportive network? All in the name of having enough time to write?
Loving and being loved. Ministry. Writing as vocation. My life holds this huge tension, and I boomerang back and forth between these three big commitments. I want all of them, but the fact that they are THREE seems too much! (And how am I going to earn money?)
The one I feel most ambitious about — and the one that I want to devote the most time to— is writing. But writing is nothing without loving and being loved (by God alone or in community or with a spouse) and by sharing fruitfulness through ministry.