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How a young priest helped me hear Jesus

BY KAYA OAKES

He ushers me into a side room and closes the door behind us. Italian, maybe in his mid-thirties, he has blond hair, big blue eyes, and round cheeks that seem to constantly flush red. This combination makes me think of the face of a cherub in a fresco. 

He’s wearing a shirt with the Jesuit logo—a sunburst around the letters IHS—stitched onto a pocket. Jeans, sneakers. He could be any grad student I grouchily bump into while waiting in line for my morning coffee. I ask if he’s a student at the school. “No,” he replies. “Already I am ordained. I am a priest.” I say, “Cool.” I have never been around a young priest before.

In many ways, I am the least likely of Catholics. Berkeley born and bred, I left the church in my teens, more interested in punk rock and creative writing than sacraments and theology. And yet, in spite of my politics, which only grew more progressive the older I got, some arcane part of me pined for the church I’d left behind. 

By the time I was in my mid-thirties, I found myself sneaking into Masses, drawn to the community, the intellectual tradition, and the rituals. After a lot of mental wrestling over my problems with dogma, I had finally signed up for RCIA and had been confirmed at Easter. But when RCIA ended, living my faith felt like being in a boat without oars. 

When an e-mail arrived from one of the RCIA leaders about spiritual direction with seminarians who were in town for the summer, I shrugged, said “Why not?” and signed myself up.

FULL ARTICLE:

A Crush on God (Commonweal)

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