With my flight to Brazil upon me, so is the second period of pre-scheduled discernment. What exactly does that mean?
Well… when someone is on a journey, you always need to carefully look around and make adjustment to accommodate the changes that naturally occur along the journey. The last time I did this was in Rome. I needed that time to gain the inner strength to get me through the Middle East and Africa. I wrestled with the choice of continuing on the pilgrimage, or possibly going home. It was necessary.
It is necessary that I do the same now.
The next four months have been planned specifically to increase my exposure to the Spanish language, in addition to the life of the Church. I have always felt like I needed immersion into Latin America in order to be the kind of minister that I wanted to be back in Chicago. I have a lot of reasons to continue through South America, but I also know that I have a ticket back to Chicago from Sao Paolo, if I want to use it.
That may sound rash… but it isn’t. To get the extremely discounted round the world fare that I’ve been using for most of my travel, one of the “rules” is that you must fly back to the country of origin. It was cheaper to buy a ticket which included a ticket back to the United States than to buy a ticket that did not include a flight back to the United States. The plan was to buy the cheaper ticket, and then throw the unused ticket away, still saving money. Crazy, but that is how it worked.
I also have tickets for travel through the rest of South America. The flights are booked through Argentina. The flights to Peru and Ecuador are not far behind. So yes, I have to wrestle with the choice of going on or going home. I do find myself extremely fatigued, and quite home sick. If I don’t hold onto the question of going home during this period of discernment, I will never trust that continuing the pilgrimage is a freely made choice. I know that I made a commitment to do this pilgrimage, but continuing is really a series of choices made every day.
The bigger part of this discernment time is reflecting on how to be more effective. I have collected a large amount of data for projects around the world that need to be funded, but I have mostly found that the greatest service provided by this pilgrimage has been performed by recognizing the human dignity of the marginalized throughout the world, many of whom we call brothers and sisters in faith, while otherwise ignoring their plight. As I continue on, I am constantly trying to figure out, how can Ad Sodalitatem do whatever it is Ad Sodalitatem does, better? How can I do my part in that better?
I have gotten requests from people to talk more about the Church and/or the parishes that I visit. I have gotten requests to stop writing so much stuff so that people in their daily lives can catch up. Whatever it is, I really do appreciate the feedback. Discernment is a conversation with God, others, and self, in the midst of prayer. So… in this wildly advanced, techno-pilgrimage of the modern age, I really need to hear from you in the comment section during my second period of discernment. I am actively soliciting for comments about the nature of what I am doing. What should I look for during the last four months? What do you want to see happen? How can we continue the process of growing in solidarity with one another? What is important for me to do? What is important for me to change in my approach?
Awhile back, I was asked by a reader and frequent commenter, Jonathan, whether or not I actually read the posted comments. I do. If you haven’t noticed, my postings have become weekly rather than daily, because my access to the internet has been highly frustrated in the developing world (just another thing we take for granted in developed countries.) In the hierarchy of things to accomplish during my three hours of internet access, I would rarely get a chance to comment on the comments. I apologize for that, but I do read them, and they do influence my thoughts.
During this discernment time, I am spending most of the time in a remote village in Brazil with a friend in the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ. I don’t know that I will post another blog until August 27, but I will be reading, and need to know your thoughts and comments. I need to listen, if I want to find the path that I should take. I appreciate your voice in the conversation. God bless! I will be praying for you. Please pray for me.