It's Official...

Sometimes the Lord works with us in mysterious ways. This past year of learning, prayer and discernment at the North American College has been an incredible chance for me to learn more and more about how the Lord is calling me to serve him with my own life. He has first of all invited me to a deeper interior life, and poured grace into my heart that I might see him as the central and ultimate focus of my entire being. He has shown me a profound beauty in the Catholic priesthood that truly appeals to my heart. He has also shown me the eminent mission of service in the Church and to the Church, and the joy that can flow from loving care and compassion for the poor and sick.

Fortunately, God does not only manifest one 'side' of his saving mission, though. He presents to us all the options, in order that we might make a free and peace-filled decision to serve him with our entire life. In addition to the joy of priesthood, the Lord has also used this year to show me the beauty of the vocation of marriage, and the life-giving capacity of conjugal chastity. In short, God has surpassed my expectations, which is not uncommon, and has prompted my heart with desires I never foresaw a year ago.

In order to take the time to discern well what the Lord is calling me toward, and as a result of the helpful guidance of my spiritual director and many close priests and friends, I will be taking a "leave of absence" from the Diocese of Toledo in the coming year and pursuing graduate philosophical studies in the States. During this time I will continually be seeking to understand God's will for me, and how he intends me to serve him most fully.

In light of this rather large decision, I've considered a few things that I'd like to share here. Perhaps the most beautiful thing about the spiritual life is the tension between "call" and "choice" that exists in our vocation. If our fundamental vocation is to holiness, as the Second Vatican Council says, then our vocation in life should ultimately reflect that movement toward sanctity. Although God calls each of us to a particular way of service within the Church, there is no doubt that he leaves the entire decision free for us to pursue as we will. The continual aim of prayer and discernment is to pursue the vocation God is calling us toward, not because it is harder or impossible, but because we begin to realize there is a level of peace in it which is inexplicable in human terms and which has been put into our hearts by our Creator from before our birth. We are all created to serve God in a particular manner, and it is our goal to freely choose that vocation through ceaseless prayer and loving pursuit of God's will.

No doubt I will continue to write this blog, and perhaps with greater frequency than before. Seeking the Truth of the Catholic faith is a vocation to which we are all called. I hope that this blog can be a source of fruitful meditation and discussion for as long as I am able to write. Please continue to pray for me and know that I am praying for those of you who read this!

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    # by Anonymous - June 12, 2008 at 4:31 PM

    Thank you for your example of continual prayer in discerning God's will. You will remain in our prayers and we look forward to more posts.
    God bless you
    Margaret

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    # by noahcarter - June 13, 2008 at 2:33 PM

    Best of luck to you in the coming year. I pray God will be clear with his revelation of your vocation.

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    # by Andrew Haines - June 13, 2008 at 3:38 PM

    Thanks to both of you. I sincerely appreciate the prayers. I will be continually praying for all those praying for me--yourselves included. Keep stopping back for more posts!

    Oh, and I'll be back in the States on the 22nd of June, so perhaps I'll see people around?

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    # by Domini Sumus - June 13, 2008 at 11:42 PM

    You will be in my prayers as you discern your vocation.

    We need good men to be husbands and fathers as much as we need good men to be priests. Plus, without good families to raise young men, there will be fewer priests from the next generation.

    May God lead you to where you will grow in holiness and service to Him.

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    # by Kyle Gase - June 14, 2008 at 10:09 AM

    It never ceases to amaze me how the Lord works. I'll keep you and your vocation in my prayers. No doubt this coming year will be filled with many blessings for you!

    Peace,

    Kyle

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    # by Anonymous - June 15, 2008 at 12:55 PM

    What a great example of TRUE discernment! As you said, holiness is in following God's Will--His "call"--in whatever way and to whatever vocation HE chooses for us! May you continue to listen to Him as you discern your vocation, and be assured of my prayers for you!

    In Christ, Ann

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    # by Anonymous - June 15, 2008 at 7:21 PM

    Andrew, You have so much to offer that wherever the Lord takes you will be awesome! Stop by Summer Creed in BG; we're discussing Heaven. We could use your insights. Deb H.

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    # by Andrew Haines - June 18, 2008 at 2:33 AM

    Deb,

    I will certainly stop by the Creed summer discussions if I am in the area. I'm not all that sure what my plans are at this point. Hopefully I'll hear soon about grad-school options. I'll see you soon though!

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    # by Anonymous - June 18, 2008 at 8:59 AM

    Hi Andrew

    If there is anything we can do for you, besides pray, or if there is anything you need please do not hesitate to ask. You are in our prayers. God bless you and safe travels.
    Margaret

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    # by Andrew - June 20, 2008 at 6:18 PM

    d'oh! I mean.. good luck with that, Andrew. You're way too smart to be wasted on anything else, but certainly you must discern God's will. Good Luck and God bless.

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    # by Anonymous - June 26, 2009 at 8:39 AM

    Welcome home Andy.
    Please tell your family hello.

    Heather

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    # by Andrew Haines - June 26, 2009 at 9:57 AM

    Heather? You should email me: andrew.m.haines@gmail.com