Easter Monday! After three days in the belly of the whale.
It is the eve of our departure to St. Augustine, Florida, our departure point for the bike trip. We will take the RV across the country and should be in St. Augustine by Friday, April 14. We will then prepare for the departure on Monday, April 17. Tomorrow we will have our send-off with a blessing by our spiritual advisor Fr. Steven Watson, OCD. We will stop at Deming, New Mexico; Kerrville, Texas; Baton Rouge, Louisiana and then finally St. Augustine. There will be ample time for reflection.
Not long ago while in the throes of organizing this event, when on the phone with a parish where we were planning to bike through, someone mentioned on the phone that biking for vocations was an interesting “ministry”. I never really thought of this being a “ministry”. I’ve since thought much about the word “ministry” and in a sense, it sounds a bit too ecclesial; it formalizes the spirit of this effort a bit more than it ought. It gets complicated in the analysis and this will be peeled back in due time.
(picture above is from Jan Luyken (born 1649), The Downfall of Nineveh
Jonah crossed Nineveh which was a large city in the great Assyrian empire and it took three days to cross. Our country will take thirty times three days to cross. But the message may be similar: that God is merciful if we cooperate with Him and return to him above all. Our Church is in crisis, a deep crisis regarding consecrated life, but it is rich with possibilities as Nineveh was. God recognized it as being rich when he reminded a grumbling Jonah that there were “one-hundred and twenty thousand persons who do not know their right hand from their left and also much cattle”. Well today, we are looking for those 120,000 persons that may be uncertain of their vocation or may have it stifled by a culture that discourages such spiritual reflection and options. We are asking for them to listen and respond to the call of mercy that God has and consider consecrated life and embrace the sacrifice just as the people of Nineveh did. There are good reasons to believe God spared Nineveh and was sensible in his judgement although Jonah thought otherwise. Unlike a grumbling Jonah, Fern and I believe we are on the cusp of a rebirth of our Catholic faith in America and it is an exciting time to participate in this rebirth.
We begin with trepidation this crossing of the U.S. and pray for great humility and hope to avoid the grumbling resistance of Jonah. I fear that Fern might have the greater burden in this crossing. I’ll sleep under the appointed plant as Jonah did.