Tuesday, November 2, 2010

So Young

Due to the German band I play in and the German dancing Daughter does, we have performed at a fair number of Catholic venues. Something that has really struck me is the ages of many of the nuns and priests "in-training". They are just so YOUNG. We played at a retirement home (which was a blast), and I swear that the novices couldn't have been over eighteen! They looked so fresh-faced and happy. At another event, there were a couple of new priests that had to be in their early twenties. I overheard one of them passionately talking to a parishioner about some sort of research he was doing. His energy was infectious. What they all had in common, though, was their joy in their vocation. I look back to who I was at eighteen, and I couldn't be farther from that ideal. I was talking to another band member and we both couldn't get over how these young nuns could have already decided the rest of their lives. Sure, they can leave the Order (and I would posit most Catholics know a former nun or two), but I would imagine they enter the Order with the plan to stay. I think of that young priest with all his excitement over life and how he has chosen to frame it. I think any religious leader would tell you that it is not an easy life and it truly is a calling. I just can't imagine making that decision at such an early age and within a religion with so many boundaries. But, maybe that is exactly what they are looking for.


Bridgett said...

My take? That's exactly what they're looking for. Most young priests I know are very conservative and yearn for the days when Bing Crosby played a priest in movies and was revered.

My pastor is an exception: he's a young (gay) liberal priest who is absolutely joyful about his calling. But he is such a rare breed.

As for nuns, well, many cloistered orders (like the one I'm an oblate with) are not exactly growing, but they aren't completely dead, either. The more "secular" orders, meaning the women who live in apartments and hold down parish administrator or teaching jobs are dwindling to a point of non-existence in this country. My thought about that is that their lives are not extraordinary enough in appearance to the women who are interested in religious life. But contemplative orders still call to some (including myself, but I've chosen another path, obviously).

Steve Chapman said...

As one who has wandered the forest nearly half a century, searching for my destination, I find such young people inspirational. Yes, they may ultimately choose a different path but to embrace a cause, a direction so intensely and so intimately at so young an age will carve out a channel in their hearts that will remain forever.