Monday, April 17, 2006

Trying It Out Without Having It All Figured Out--What's Good About "God or the Girl"

Susan Rose and Jenn (rather humorously I must say) have already beat me to the punch as far as commenting on this, but I thought I'd offer my thoughts briefly on God or the Girl. I thought it started at 10:00, so I saw only what I guess was episode 2, but a few thoughts. It seems like each story had to have an "angle": the cross, the girlfriend, the mission and the Mom. I also can't watch without thinking the whole time: There's a camera, so how genuine can this be? That said, let me say that one of the things I liked about it, is something that others seemed to have a problem with: These guys just don't quite seem to get it.

The truth is, I see this as a good thing. Why? Because it says to young men who are thinking about being priests that you don't quite have to have everything figured out before you try it out. Joe, who is a former Jesuit novice, is a good example. He's already tried it, and he seems the least interested in being a priest of the four!

Read Father Jim Martin's In Good Company, or even his new book My Life With the Saints, and you'll be struck by the fact that he's the first to admit that when he was looking into becoming a Jesuit and a priest he really had no idea what he was doing. I think that's true of many of us, myself included. That's why my blog is called "You Duped Me Lord." Certainly, you don't want to do it merely on a whim. But I hope that what the following episodes of God or the Girl will show is that you don't need to have it all figured out or even know exactly what you're getting into to enter the seminary or novitiate, you just have to have a desire and a sense that God might be calling you. Part of the work of the seminary or the novitiate is taking the time to discover whether you indeed have a call to the priesthood or religious life.

So, that's what I hope and I think that young men--and women--might be able to get out of God or the Girl, that if you have a desire to serve God as a priest or religious that you don't have to be certain or even have it all figured out before you try it out.


Blogger Steph said...

I had that same realization at one point .... "If I wait until I'm perfect with the God-thing, I'll NEVER enter. I'm not saying I'm perfect by entering; I'm merely committing myself to TRY."

4:27 PM  
Blogger Susan Rose, CSJP said...

Ugghhh ... my brilliant comment disappeared in a snafu! But I'll try to recreate it.

What I was struck by was not so much that the guys didn't get it, but that those around them and the producers of the special didn't seem to quite know how to frame or understand their exploration. It reminded me of many of the reactions I've gotten from folks as I clue them into my vocation journey.

Speaking of, in my case I figured out a long time ago that the major miracle was that God got me to stop ignoring him and explore this whole crazy wonderful thing called religious life. The rest is a piece of cake after moving that mountain. I still have NO idea what I'm doing, but figure God does.

That said, try to catch the 1st episode. There were some comments that made me think these guys have a LOT to learn about healthy celibate chastity. They made it seem like they could never have a friend who was a girl again, and needed to lock themselves away in a tower to be close to God. But I guess there's a learning curve for everyone on that big one.

8:51 PM  
Blogger angelmeg said...

My biggest problem is that the program seems to equate marriage with "falling" somehow. Even Mike's mentor was crushed that he would choose Ali and marriage over the priesthood. I see them as equally holy callings from God, just different ones.

I was called to marriage and thankfully so was my devoted husband. He didn't seek a lesser calling by choosing marriage, just a different one than the priesthood.


11:31 PM  
Blogger Gashwin said...

A very good point, Mark. And Maggie, I totally agree --- all of us watching the 4 epsidoes earlier today kept saying, "you know choosing the girl isn't choosing against God!"

1:09 AM  
Blogger Gashwin said...

Oh --- forgot to add, despite all that, I liked it!

1:09 AM  
Blogger Barb, sfo said...

Susan Rose, I noticed the same thing--your point about "healthy celibate chastity." I was wondering, though, how much of that was a result of the way the episodes were EDITED. Maybe they said more--but the lines were cut and this is what we're left with. I hope so, for those guys' sakes.

7:34 AM  
Blogger Amy L. Cavender, CSC said...

I definitely like that point--it isn't necessary to have it all figured out. When I entered Holy Cross, I was reasonably sure I'd stay, but not 100% by any means--and was actually OK with that.

What I was 100% sure about, though, was that I didn't want to wake up on my 40th birthday and have to ask myself, "What if?"

So I gave it a try--and found that it fit pretty darn well. :-) But if I'd waited until I was 100% sure....

9:25 AM  
Anonymous "omis" said...

I also realized when I was early in my discernment that I wouldn't have every question answered to 100% satisfaction, and that part of my decision would require some faith--and maybe even God expects that of us.

I also wonder if they're going to bring up the possibility of the deaconate. I know it's a different vocation than the priesthood, but it's also not simply a choice between marriage and ordained ministry.

3:29 PM  
Blogger angelmeg said...


I wondered that as well. Why didn't Fr talk to Mike about the permanent deaconate as a way to be in ordained ministry and be married? He could only see the vocation as being fulfilled in one way.

I have a Deacon friend who is happily living both vocations.

11:19 PM  
Blogger Kensy said...

Thanks, Mark. I needed that.

Rather sad we don't have A&E in the UK - hope it appears on some channel we do have.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I agree about the lack of perspective on "healthy celibate chastity." I only caught one of the episodes, I believe it was #4. That said, I am of the opinion that five episodes is way to short a time to cover a topic (and journeys) of this depth.

The point is well made and taken about one's learning curve, but the major problem I see with the series is lack of a mature analytical response within the context of the show itself. Yes, it's about their journeys but I think there needs to be more seasoned insights shared along the way. Perhaps there is, and I only missed it having seen one episode, but given that I saw the penultimate episode and have this perspective, I suspect it's lacking throughout.

I think the presence of the show and the discussion it has generated provides a positive public forum for discussing vocations to the priesthood. However, I have concerns about the ability of the show to sustain such dialogue outside circles where it's already a topic of interest.

Just a few brief thoughts...

8:37 PM  

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