Answering the Call
As the days count down to another move date I find myself getting excited by all the things the future might bring. I keep reminding myself not to plan too much and to just let things happen as God intends. Letting things happen on their own is something I’ve never been good at, as I mentioned previously, but with the help of some really great people here in Atlanta and the spiritual direction I’m going through at the Ignatius House, I feel more open to listening than ever.
Just because I’m trying to be open to the call doesn’t mean I’m going to sit around waiting for things to fall in my lap, though. As much as I try to just listen in prayer instead of talking my head off with all the things I want to do and want to be, I understand that God will not live my life for me. So this summer, in July, I intend to move up to Pennsylvania and begin the application process to join the Jesuits. I’ve updated my portfolio site at jamestomasino.com and am actively seeking a job or contract that will pay the bills for the next year while I prepare. I’m making strides to keep in constant communication with the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus as well, and trying hard to keep myself grounded in daily prayer; though that part continues to be a struggle with the work schedule of late. I know that entering the novitiate and heading towards seminary isn’t a decision, but a continuation of my discernment, and that distinction gives me faith that it is not my will stepping on my call, but rather a slow process of active listening leading me on a path. Whether it takes me through it all to ordination or leads me through a few years of growth in my faith before telling me something else is right, this next step seems to be what I am called toward.
Even my parents have become more supportive in the process. I was wary of telling them at first, to be honest. Though I was raised Catholic, our church life was never anything extraordinary. We went on Sundays, when I could be dragged, and went home after. There was very little involvement beyond the basics. My parents have always been very supportive, though, even when I tell them I want to do something crazy, like join the Navy, so it shouldn’t have surprised me when my mom called and told me she’d talked to a Franciscan from their parish about me. She understands things better now, I think; and as she talks to more people about it, she’s been finding more and more friends who have relatives in religious life. I think that’s been important to her so that the whole thing can be grounded in the world we know.
For my dad, the focus has been a little different. He’s always wanted me to be self sufficient, especially financially. So when I told him that I was looking at religious life, I think he was probably a little disappointed on that front. He too, however, has been growing more supportive, or at least less opposed. He hasn’t offered any of his customary “suggestions” that I look into something else, so I take that to be a very good sign.
I’ve had a rougher time with some of my friends who have known me a long time. I don’t blame them for not seeing it in me, though. I have never been one to talk about faith with my friends, so it must seem pretty odd or sudden for many of them. It’s a habit I’m trying to work on, though, with the people around me now. It’s like Thomas Moore said, you should develop virtues until they become habit.
So while I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, I am excited for it. God’s path for me will take time to understand, and I can accept that. I’ll do what I can to keep moving forward, and with the help of friends and family, I’ll do my best to be my best at whatever it is I am supposed to do. (Try saying that three times fast.)