Tuesday, April 18, 2006

God or the Girl

As a Catholic, I am always intrigued to read about shows dealing specifically with my faith that aren’t torrid exposes or “out to get” the Church. It could be very easy to be and remain offended about the way in which the Roman Catholic Church is portrayed in the media. It’s a good thing that Catholics don’t riot every time our faith is mocked or persecuted in this world. I started reading commentary about a new reality show called God or the Girl several weeks ago in various magazines. Given that there is a priest scandal around every corner, there was no way I was not going to watch a show dealing with young men contemplating the priesthood. Worse case scenario I would simply change the channel. I was not disappointed. God has used this show in my life. I invite you to see what it has to say to you.

God or the Girl is chronicling the journey of four young men as they discern whether they are called to be Roman Catholic priests. I have enjoyed the stories of each. Mike is a good Catholic man and it’s nice to know that such men are out there. I can relate to Joe’s desire to please everyone, especially those most important to him. I watch Dan and his zealousness and am in awe. I had no idea that there were Catholic people like him. I wish that I knew him or someone like him. Without taking away from the other men on the show, Steve’s journey is the most radical. He left a successful business career to embark on life as a missionary. It’s not the material goods that he is giving up that impresses me the most. He is giving up his comfort zone. No matter what his decision may be (I can’t wait for Sunday night!) I have a great deal of respect for him. He picked up his cross just as literally as Dan did.

Another thing that interested me about God or the Girl was the journey of discernment. My father is studying to be a permanent deacon. He's never considered himself to be a student and reading and writing do not come easily for him. Still, he's answering the call he has and is taking seminars and college courses that require nothing but reading and writing. I couldn't be more proud. Also, when I was just out of college I contemplated joining the Daughters of St. Paul. Watching this show reminds me so much of that time in my life. To be honest, I looked in that direction more because I thought no man would ever want to date me then because I had a “calling.” It was not wasted time or energy, though. During my discernment and visits with the sisters, I gained a lot of respect for myself and met wonderful people I never would have met otherwise. My time with them and Sr. Margaret Michael in particular taught me that I am precious to God. Something so simple that I should have been KNOWN long ago made a huge impact on my life.

Today, my faith is lacking. I have always been a social person and a follower of sorts. When I am around people who love God and are committed to the Catholic Church, so am I. When I’m not, I’m lazy. I would love for people to think otherwise, but that is a lie. I know how to say the “right things.” I know the right vocabulary but it’s pretty much a façade. I have struggled with joining another Christian church that is closer to where I live. I’ve talked about this with Danny. He told me to give it up and he is right. I’m Catholic. I may not be practicing right now, but I’m Catholic. I love the Church I was raised in. The trouble is that I feel no personal connection to God. I don’t know how to pray. I don’t know how to build a personal relationship with Jesus. Or, maybe it’s that I don’t put forth the effort to even get started. I feel that way about a lot of my relationships right now. I’m on autopilot. I want to be a better Christian, a better wife, a better mother, a better friend. All of that takes energy. The little energy I have gets used up treading water. I have been unwilling to give more. I have been resentful of the sacrifices I have to make to be wife, mother, sister, friend, child of God. Watching God or the Girl has been a slap in the face – a much needed slap in the face.

The most profound moment of God or the Girl for me so far has dealt with Fr. Jorge, a beautiful priest who left his family and his country to minister to the poor in Guatemala. Steve, a young man contemplating the priesthood, went to stay with Fr. Jorge to find out first hand what the life of a missionary priest is like. Steve told Fr. Jorge that he felt guilty taking food from the people because they have nothing. Fr. Jorge said, “All I can give is my life.” Is that not true of all of us where ever we are? I have been given so many gifts in this life and what I focus on is what I’m giving up. How very selfish. I think that if I am willing to give of my very life, I have found the beginnings of my personal relationship with God. I have found the spark that I need to be the better wife, mother and friend that I long to be. God has found me where I am and is still calling me home. I hope (I can not yet say pray) that I will take Him up on His invitation.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to watch this show, I encourage you to check it out. As for me, don’t call me on Sunday night after 10pm. I won’t be answering the phone. I am very interested to see which – if any – of these young men will enter the seminary. No matter what, the Body of Christ is lucky to have them. They have blest us all with their openness and humility. Dan, Mike, Joe and Steve – I thank you!

4 comments:

Annabel said...

I am a very recent convert to the faith. (This Easter Vigil) I can understand your feeling that it takes energy to be a Child of God... I felt that way a long time ago as a Baptist. I thought it would be too hard and it was just easier to live in sin than to life a live that I couldn't. But I have discovered in the Catholic faith that it really isn't as difficult as I thought. I don't have any advice other than if you can, start taking part in the sacraments again and go to Mass. I think that is what made the most remarkable change in me. I will pray for you and hope that you do take God's invitation.

I also have been watching God or the Girl and loved your post about it. It is an amazing show!

Good luck and God Bless!

Melissa O. Markham said...

Jennifer,

I can't speak to the Catholic religion, though I have a friend who was Catholic and it seems I remember her telling me that Catholics aren't encouraged to read the Bible and that there are intermediaries between you and God and you and Christ. If this is true, then I would imagine it would be harder for you to develop that relationship you seem to be seeking.

The best advice I have is to read the Bible. Find a good translation and read, read, read. Find a good bible study. I personally recommend anything by Beth Moore. Unfortunately for me, it took very difficult circumstances to bring me closer to God. Going to church and participating actively by teaching Sunday School, singing, attending board meetings, being on committees...through all of these things, I grow closer to God as I learn from others and learn to open up my heart.

God bless!

Trista said...

It's on my tivo list! It looks like Friday has 4 episodes!

the quists said...

It sounds to me like you are a little hard on yourself too. I feel guilty if I don't read enough or pray enough or if I don't feel close to God, but the truth is that a relationship with God is not based on feeling. I think a lot of the time I am looking for the whole "God experience", when whether I feel it or not, God is right here beside me. He never stops loving me, or you, and he has his hand in our lives. Maybe you need to take the pressure off and just rest in knowing that He LOVES you just the way you are and that He is already working in your life. I am not trying to say that you shouldn't try to read and pray more, but do it because you love God and sincerely want to spend the time with God, not because you feel guilty. (I think I struggle with this same thing.) I love ya!