A Time for Next Steps

By: Bishop Paul S. Loverde

With schedules crawling to a summer pace as vacations and long weekends appear on the horizon, along with prioritizing which tasks need to be accomplished each day and what meetings should be scheduled each week, we may find ourselves with more time to consider some deeper questions. This is a time to commit ourselves to asking with renewed curiosity: “Where is God leading me? How may I become an instrument to bring others closer to Him?”

These larger questions naturally encourage a consideration of one’s vocation. While the word “vocation” is used in a variety of ways, as a Church we understand it as a calling from God to which we are asked to respond. Blessed Pope John Paul II poses to us this question:

Deacon Silva with his family on the day of his diaconate ordination

“What do you seek, pilgrims? Each one of us here must ask himself this question. But you above all, since you have your life ahead of you. I invite you to decide definitively the direction of your way. With the very words of Christ, I ask you: ‘What do you seek’? (Jn 1:38). Do you seek God? The spiritual tradition of Christianity not only underlines the importance of our search for God. It highlights something more important still: it is God who looks for us. He comes out to meet us (Pope John Paul II, Compostela, Spain, 1989).

The challenges of discerning one’s vocation may make us feel as if we are divided into two camps: those of us who “have one” and those of us “who do not yet have one.” While it is true that some have not yet fully discovered God’s will for their calling in life, each of us is called on a day-to-day basis to discern how God wants to work through us.  Every day, each of us must take seriously that daily charge to live for Christ, in every aspect of our work, our relationships and our prayer.

Being caught up in the celebration and joy of those occasions, when we see the smiling faces of new priests or newly married couples, we may forget all the sacrifices and choices that were made before each person arrived at that point.  Recently ordained priests or new spouses did not reach that pivotal moment without considerable discernment and dedication to living lives of holiness. Each of them asked deep questions, facing their own lives with honesty: “How am I called to live my life?” “How may I best serve God?” “Will I give my life to the Church?” “Is this person next to me the one I want to live with for the rest of my given years?”

Intellectually, it is easy to understand that in major decisions, timing is extremely important and, as the familiar adage tells us, that “good things come to those who wait.”  Practically speaking, however, living with patience and commitment to the present day can be stressful and taxing, especially when one is young and bursting forth with energy.  Young people often understand very clearly that they are called to do great things for Christ, but sometimes, waiting for the “what” and the “when,” that comes with true discernment may lead to discouragement or the temptation to doubt that the Lord has a plan.

I urge you brothers and sisters, to be at peace and know that God does indeed have a plan for each of us – a very special and unique plan! You need only to look to priests that you admire or couples for whom you have great respect to know that Our Lord also desires to call you to a life of happiness with Him.

Regardless of where you are in your vocational discernment, I encourage you to view summer as a time to take a step back, to ask Our Lord about the major decisions in your life and to take the next step on the path of holiness on which He is leading you! Keep in mind that every day, God calls us to the joy of deepening intimacy with Him. After all, this is the universal vocation to holiness, from which every other more specific vocation flows.

3 thoughts on “A Time for Next Steps

  1. Here in an interesting take on human nature regarding the human soul.

    The human soul is capable of the incorporation of grace from an ontological stand point. Many modern Catholic theologians focus on grace to such an extent that they fail to recognize that even souls who are not in the state of grace are loved by GOD to the extent that Christ died on the Cross to bring them back or to call them back and then so by name.

    In a sense, we humans need to return to being mere creatures in our own mind’s eye and to stop trying to be GOD. Our Lady of Fatima has warned against blurring the line between creature and creator.

    Quite literally, the life of sanctifying grace for all those of us who possess it even for the Saints including canonized clergymen and religious could not exist were it not for its underpinning of the natural soul. Quite simply, GOD simply does not bestow grace to humans who do not already have a soul simply because the absolute requirement of the existence of the natural life of the human soul is required for grace. Thus, grace depends intrinsically and extrinsically on the human natural soul to exist and to be sustained in existence.

    We are not GOD and we never will be GOD nor GODs and it is time that all of us who would look down on: the homeless, those who are addicts, the incarcerated, those on death row, the mentally ill, and those below the economic poverty, to realize that these are the least who will be the greatest as well as the least of our brethren who as the Lord says, so long as you did not take care of the sick, feed the hungry, clothed the naked, visited the imprisoned, or comforted the afflicted, you did not do so for me.

    The Bible is absolutely clear in this regard. Given the currently veiled nature of exactly what will transpire at the Final Resurrection of the Dead at the End of time, let us not delude ourselves into thinking and acting like there will not be many Lazarus’ feasting very close to the Lord at the Heavenly Banquette.

    I personally make heroic acts of charity by offering to spend any time I will in Purgatory for the salvation of these least of our brethren and do the same for those who are in the so-called Alpha positions in our society such as clergymen, including Bishops, Cardinals, and the Pope, health care professionals, military officers, civil leaders, CEOs, and the like. Quite simply, I am utterly compelled to do so because if I had my way, not a single soul would be lost on my prayer watch, not even those who I am naturally inclined to be repulsed by. In reality, there is really no one who I can think of whom I am repulsed by if only because I can barely stand the idea of any one going to Hell. If this means that I will ultimately definitively spend much time in Purgatory, then absolutely so be it.
    However, for those likewise wishing to make heroic acts of charity, remember to spend much time offering up the Sacrifice if the mass throughout the world as well as making direct prayers to GOD and also petition the intercession of Mary and the Saints and Angels for the Salvation of as many souls as possible.

    Let us never let our heroic acts of charity replace Christ’s job of our salvation and the merits of His Life, Passion, Crucifixion, Death, resurrection, Ascension, and fatherhood of the world to come for the whole of the good of the cosmos. For those willing to make such heroic acts of charity, let your prayers as such complement and work hand in hand with Christ’s merits. Ultimately, salvation is GOD’s job and we do not want to fall into a lax sense of pride that it is our job. However, we can and should help.

    By the same token, one is under no morally binding obligation to make such heroic acts of charity, not even in the case where one seeks great Sainthood and would even attain it.

    Technically speaking, GOD is not the absolute sum of all reality, rather the set of creatures and GOD are the sum total of reality. More to the point, GOD, currently existing creatures, and all that is possible but which has yet to be created or to exist is the sum total of reality.

    I am in no way being a pantheist here, but rather am drawing a great and fundamental distinction between creature and GOD. Creation should never replace GOD and the supreme honor and worship HE is due, but should be viewed as complementary. I think GOD would have it no other way. We have no right to distain creation otherwise we would be telling GOD that what HE made is junk. Creation if the result of GOD’s work outside of HIMSELF and is thus HIS pride and joy in the sense that HE is rightfully proud and pleased by what HE made, for as the Book of Genesis says, GOD saw how good it was.

    We must remember our vocations to be creatures and human persons. The ultimate mystery behind such vocations, whether we are clergymen, religious, married, single, divorced, consecrated virgins, layity, Saints in Heaven, Poor Souls in Purgatory, or perhaps Souls in any Limbo if Limbo exist, is currently yet to be fully manifested. The real glory comes at the Final Ressurection and what comes afterward.



  2. I had some other thoughts on our first steps, steps that we may take for all eternity as we relate to our fellow rational creatures.

    In a sense, perhaps we humans in this early epoch of the cosmos can be said to be living in a privileged time. We are precursor rational creatures who have a body and a spiritual and immortal, immediately and directly created soul, ex nihilo.

    Scripture refers to the Ancient Dark One or Satan almost as if His origin was near or at the very foundation of the genesis of all of created reality. Presumably, all of the currently existing angels, good and bad, where created at a time that roughly translates to or just after the foundation of the inanimate cosmos. These precursor pure spirits, good and bad, have been given quite a gift at the natural level in their purely spiritual nature and the modern Catholic interpretation is that even Satan has a nature which is very, very good, although He employs his nature for morally evil purposes. In a sense, all of the angels have an ontological seniority over we humans being that they are Ancient. Note a difference between ontological and moral goodness.

    We humans as the first body-soul creatures who have had the options of growing in sanctifying grace and who can receive abundant graces and the Sacramental Seals conferred at Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders, and for those who enter marriage, special graces conferred by the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, are perhaps the first recipients of these graces from among the set of body soul persons of which there may be innumerable species that are non-human such as bodily extraterrestrials, bodily ultra-terrestrials, so-called etherians, and the like.

    The above latter three classes of persons; ETs, UTs, and Etherians, may or may not need Salvation or perhaps some may and some may not. Christ’s unrepeatable Conception, Birth ,Life, Suffering, Passion, Crucifixion, Death, Resurrection, Ascension into Heaven, and Fatherhood of the world to come, would presumably provide Salvific merits to any such non-human bodily persons who would need such graces being that Christ’s once and only once Incarnation has eternal merits for the entire cosmos, perhaps even in way we will never fully understand.
    We humans in this very time by virtue of being born only about 2,000 years after Christ have a privilege of being ancient one’s relative to humans that may be conceived in the cosmically distant future as well as the same for distant future ETI, UTI, and any Etherians, but then so hopefully with benign intentions.

    Now, this speculation may sound like a diatribe, however, I will present my reasoning below.

    All of GOD’s creatures share a fundamental interdependence and exist in relation to GOD and also in relation to each other. This interdependence was willed by GOD so that all creatures could have an existential say or role to play in the Divine Economy.

    Now the very first creatures or elements of creation are by definition the oldest even under the condition that they may be infinitely old. Therefore they are the first creatures to provide inter-relations or inter-relatedness with other similarly old creatures.

    Consequently and by corollary, these first or ancient creatures provide relations or causative mechanisms by which new creatures, even ones created directly and ex nihilo by GOD , have their existence so defined, supported, enhanced, evolved, or improved. This is plausible since a creature that already exists is already inter-related to the other existent creatures. Creatures that first come into existence at successively later epochs can only be related to creatures that are created simultaneously with them and with creatures the have prior existence whereby these prior existing creatures provide the underpinning or enhancing inter-relatedness by which the new creatures are defined and/or which give them further meaning.

    Older creatures have had more time, for lack of a better word, to become inter-related with other creatures and have had more time which to evolve or with which to develop existential and/or causal couplings with other creatures. In short, these older creatures have been around longer and have existentially seen more of the good side of life as well as the bad side. The same philosophical anecdotal schemata can be applied to creatures originating in the current cosmic era and for creatures yet to be created but which will originate in ever further distant future cosmic eras.

    Now by inter-relationships, I do not imply social interactions per se, but more generally am referring to ontological, metaphysical, substantial, and accidental inter-relationships. So you folks who are shy and who are not prone to socialize, you need not be afraid that you lack inter-relationships. Many of you, I find, are quite astute with much interior mental activity and so in a sense with regard to the accidental aspects of your faculties of intellect, will, and heart, you realize a certain unique degree of becoming more inter-related regarding your subjective conscious psychodynamic life which is more prone to prayer-full meditation and self-reflection than many but necessarily all extroverts such as myself.

    Regardless of our temperament, our inter-relations with the rest of creation will grow throughout all eternity, as GOD continues the wonderful process of creation, a primary agenda of HIS DIVINE ECONOMY but which HE will never be out done or out classed by our limited notions of what GOD can and does create and by any false limits we place on GOD for HIS Creative Might. A GOD who is all powerful to destroy is also all powerful to create, and in the depths of future eternity and even now, is drawing great good out of moral and material evil.

    We must face the facts. Moral and material evil exist and in very real senses, it remains a mystery as to why it exists. However, GOD is so ALL-POWERFUL that HE would not allow moral and even material evil in HIS creation if HE were not so all powerful so as to draw even greater good from it.

    Yes, it can be hard for us to contemplate in a highly imaginative and vivid and visceral manner what Christ went through at the hands of the Roman soldiers who flogged Him and Crucified Him, but look at what we have as a result: Our Bodily Resurrection and Reunion with our souls and an eternity of glory currently incomprehensible where we will have access to the wonders of an ever growing creation. Perhaps we will have an opportunity to provide mentorship to new creatures in cosmic eras to come. For all of you clergymen and consecrated religious, as well as married, widowed, and single folks who delight in mentoring the little ones in our elementary schools, kindergartens, and pre-schools, I thought that you would find this latter notion appealing.

    Note that I make the disclaimer that the above contents do not necessarily imply incorporation into Church Teaching in any of its forms, and are not intended to be viewed as inerrable, however, they represent a brief summary of the respective subject from the viewpoint of a contemporary era physicist who is well versed in the study of modern schemata involving the scope of creation and the possibilities of the existence of ETI life-forms on other planets and elsewhere. The Vatican actually hosted a conference of the theological and doctrinal ramifications of the possibility of extra-terrestrial life forms either last year or before, and so I feel free within reason to speculate on the What Ifs.



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