All Good Things…

Dear readers,

I have been taking the past number of weeks away from the blog to look at things from a different perspective. I once heard it said “If you give the Church your youth, she will never return it.” My own experience of this has lead to some great personal problems. Since leaving seminary life I have found that my identity for the past five years following my conversion was completely summarized in my desire to become a priest. My own conversion is what lead me straight to the seminary after college. When my plans toward the priesthood were dissolved, so was my personal identity. And now over a year later, I am a different person than I was when I first started this blog. I have rebuilt my life from scratch.

Perhaps only ex-seminarians will understand what I’m saying. Perhaps their experience is similar to this—that we, who hoped to devote our entire lives to that great mystery which is the priesthood, were offered a foretaste of so great a promise. And when we took on that identity of “seminarian”, it was as if a veil had been lifted that separated us from the glory of the Altar—not completely unveiled but revealed to us in such a way that we could witness the joy of priesthood with greater clarity than before. And suddenly, when our hearts were full for God and our souls were so readily moved to His service, we were thrown, forcibly, from clarity back into the din and the veil between us and the Priest pulled back again. Only this time: what misery to have had a vision of this mysterious and necessary life of the Priest, only to be made painfully aware of what was lost whenever we should attend the Sacred Mystery!

That is my constant burden now, and that is why this blog must end. While Catholic Eye Candy helped preserve my faith at the trials I suffered at the time of my departure, now it only serves as a bitter reminder that my heart’s one desire was not in union with the judgment of Holy Mother Church. We ought to accept her discernment in all things. She has been good to me, and always shall.

God save you.

–C

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23 Responses to “All Good Things…”

  1. Diana Says:

    Oh, how sad. You will be missed, and I will definitely keep you in my prayers.
    I sort of know how you feel–you have your heart set on doing something amazing for God… it seems so perfect, and then, no. He has other plans for you. What those are, who knows? All you know is the plans you had aren’t in the cards. It stinks and is difficult to accept. I’m in a similar boat, now that my show is over. But I’ll tell you what I tell myself every day: Don’t lose hope. God might have something so much more amazing in store for you. Keep praying. He’ll show you eventually. Just keep watching Him.
    I’ll be praying for you. 🙂

  2. LC in NC Says:

    I hope that you intend to leave the content up for a while. So enjoyable. God Bless …

  3. Vincent M Says:

    I have only been following your blog for a few months. I enjoyed the “eye-candy”. Now, I don’t comment very often, but as a former seminarian who also left the seminary with a heavy heart and also after a desire to be a priest since high school, I feel that your statement reflects thee thoughts of many seminarians.

    I have since married, and I am blessed by my vocation in ways ways that I don’t think my wife will ever fully understand. My years after the seminary were tumultuous. I continue to struggle with how to best be part of the Church outside of the priesthood. I held tight to my Breviary for several years though I seldom prayed. I even tried to make myself leave the Church, but in the end I could not leave the Truth.

    Though I do not know you, I will pray in a special way for you, and in a greater way for all former seminarians. We’re in a giant club hidden in plain sight, I guess. If you need to reach out through email, it will be welcomed.

    V

  4. bernardino Says:

    I feel like closing. Your blog is really great. But we all stages in our life that we must begin and end. God bless you. (I’m Spanish, I do not speak English and translated by google translator. Sorry if not well understood.)

  5. Denis Says:

    As another ex-seminarian, I understand your feelings. I wish there was something I could say that would help, but there isn’t. The only thing I can say is take the good habits you learned in seminary (Divine Office, daily Holy Hour, daily Rosary) and keep at it. Place all your feelings on the altar. I’ll be praying for you.

  6. Tonus Peregrinus Says:

    Dear ‘C’,
    I subscribed to your site some time ago with ym google reader, and dipped in when a new post appeared. Always fun often inspiring, thank you.

    I too am a former seminarian, and I can identify with what you say. It is a unique identity and it is difficult for those who have never been part of that world to understand the impact that is made on your life, relationships and spirituality. When that is taken away, in whatever circumstances, it is like feeling cast into the dark somehow. Indeed only those well-meaning guys who *were* seminarians can get it.

    God is good, and provides for us all in ways which are at times stunning. I will pray for you, and ask that you would be as good as to do the same for me.

  7. Peter Paul Fuchs Says:

    Oh, Chris, that was kind of painful to read. But, here’s my prediction, you will not feel anything like this in a little while. There is a simple reason for this. The paradoxical fact is that the Catholic Church seems much LARGER when you are out it than when you are in it. I well understand that you still feel deeply involved with the Church. That is fine. Maybe it will always be that way. But maybe not. What is sure is that in the very intense world of the seminary, and particularly in the small ones that we share in common, the world shrinks. The actual breadth of the institution of the Church shrinks. When you actually take- in its massive size and diversity a new perspective emerges. The overwhelming majority of Catholics have a fairly strong identity as Catholics, but quite a weak de facto understanding of what is involved. This is a set-up that started in the Medieval era, and still remains, even with increased literacy. It does not change because the identity works in many ways, as long as you ask few questions, and there are a lot of people to share that identity with. But the types that go into seminaries are cut from a different cloth, somewhat ironically . You get immersed in the actual world of what it means to be a Church. But exactly here is the bizarre point. It is a hothouse creation. In fact what you learn does not correlate with what most Catholics experience. Those with probing intellects and deep souls easily get spat out of the Church for the simple reason that they don’t fit. Or, like those that remain, their minds become so spun around their fantasies and laziness that they don’t see anything else.

    In my later adult life I have only joined or related to groups or organizations that have a realistic view of human nature. That means accepting that people are people, and that they always have a bad side, or weak side. There is great wisdom in accepting that in others , and knowing that others accept that in you. In fact they expect it, or at last realistically look out for it.

    How different the world of seminary is from all this. They are constantly in search of the new realization of normalcy, to prove to themselves that they are like others. But the whole thing is built on being different, and on not having a bad side. But here is the ultimate paradox. They throw you out, not for your bad side, but for your good side. I am not saying that there are not beautiful things about the Catholic Church. But this is not a good moment in its history, by a long shot. Right now they ordain and promote those who totter on the edge of peculiarity, psychologically speaking. Maybe they are not crazy, but a look at the general population will tell you that the they are not normal either. In my work life I encountered many , many more decent and kind and wise and virtuous people than I ever encountered in the seminary. That made me a better person than I would have been. And I wish the same for you.

  8. Peter Paul Fuchs Says:

    Sorry, Cliff!

  9. Tom Says:

    Whitty,

    You continue to be in my prayers.

    I think the difficulty in leaving the seminary really depends on the reason. In my experience, I decided to leave the seminary and there was a real sense of peace that came with the decision. While I was nervous about facing those who had supported me throughout the two years I was in, when it was finally over, everyone was very supportive. However, in circumstances where it wasn’t necessarily the decision of the seminarian to leave, things are a bit different. When that happens, they can’t see clearly how they are going to play a role in the church in future years.

    In both cases, however, there is still a tremendous amount of uncertainty with the future. All we can do is continue to pray and keep hoping for the best. The Lord always has a way of revealing his plans for us. We must remember though, it happens in his time, not ours.

    Be strong and let’s continue to keep each other in prayer.

    Your brother in Christ,
    Prangle

  10. Joe Heschmeyer Says:

    C. Whitty,

    You ended your blog’s journey as you carried it: beautifully. I’ve already prayed for you today, but I’ll try and make a mental note to keep you in my upcoming prayers as well. I know you’re going through an awful period of stripping away, but it sounds like you’re taking it with faith and courage — I’ll just pray that you have more of the same.

    On a selfish note, do you know of any other Catholic blogs that do what you’ve done here?

    Joe.

  11. C. Whitty Says:

    Thank you all for the comments. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, under whose care I have always commended all my readers, take you under her mantle of protection!

    Your Servant in the Lord Jesus,
    Cliff

    • croixmom Says:

      Cliff,
      If you are still going to Mass in Sarasota, can you contact me directly, pls?

      God keep you,
      D2.

  12. Fr. Larry Says:

    Thank you for that very personal insight into your life. I do not know your situation, or why you left the seminary. I would simply mention that one Religious Order or Diocese does not the end. I thought I was going to join a religious order, but God had different plans and I became a diocesan priest. Are you familiar with the vocation story of Fr. John Corapi? Maybe you should contact his religious order, Society of Our Lady of the Trinity? Fr. Corapi was kicked out of the Franciscans (for his devotion to the Holy Eucharist) and eventually became a priest anyway with the SOLT. Have you heard of Holy Apostles Seminary in Conn., they will take seminarians without a sponsoring diocese. As I said I am not sure of the reasons, for your departure, but maybe you could talk to somebody at Holy Apostles or SOLT. Of course, it may mean that you would have to be a priest in say “North Dakota”?, but if you really feel a calling and want to give it another shot, it is just a thought. I like the definition of vocation that says, “Your Vocation is that place where God can best show you how much He loves you.” Remember God has not stopped loving you, He just wants you to fall deeper in love with Him through this pain. I pray that through the wounds of Jesus Crucified, you may come to know the deep, personal, intimate love that God has for you.

  13. Clinton Says:

    Cliff, thank you for your honesty.

    Fr. Larry’s comment above has much good sense about it. I shall keep you
    in my prayers.

  14. Fr. Alonso Says:

    Dear Cliff,
    I have enjoyed your blog for its beautiful depictions of our Catholic culture as well as for the inspiring witness of your Catholic faith. I am a priest in the Archdiocese of Miami. If I can ever be of any assistance to you as you continue to discern your vocation, please don’t hesitate to contact me. As another priest already noted: there are many paths to the holy priesthood. If you have not yet done so, please consider the following communities: Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word, Knights of the Holy Eucharist, Canons Regular of St. John Cantius, Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, etc, etc. Truly, there are many great communities out there as well as dioceses, among the latter: Venice in FL, Lincoln, NE, Springfield in IL, St. Louis, MO, etc. You are in my prayers.
    Pax et Bonum

  15. Ruth Says:

    Cliff, I just want to say how very very much I have enjoyed your blog and the beautiful images you posted here. I am just a lay person and a convert at that. I have a deep and abiding love of God and despite the despair you are experiencing in the wilderness through which you are now walking, I know that God is leading you to your personal Promise Land. As mentioned above, many have been turned away from what they thought was to be their path of service. Merton comes to my mind as one example. He is still calling you and will bring you into the fold He has chosen for you.

  16. JoAnne Says:

    You have inspired me with your website, and your struggle. May the Blessed Mother guide you in your vocation search. I do not believe the
    search is over, do not despair-but place your trust in your Mother. As Fr Corapi also said while still discerning direction he would say this phrase thousands of times a day for a year : “Immaculate Heart of Mary I place all my trust in you”–good luck you will be in my family’s prayers.

  17. Phillip T. Says:

    Hey Cliff,

    It feels like forever since I last talked to you. I know it must be surprising to get a message from me now, but believe or not, I still check into your blog occasionally. After reading your post, I definitely feel a pang of guilt that I never spent time with you during that fall semester. I think part of it was the busyness of the semester but I think that if you’re really friends with someone you’ll find a way to hang with them. I always considered you an excellent friend, and I definitely miss your presence in formation. You were the first and only roommate I’ve ever had, and I miss the fun times we used to have together. I don’t mean for this message to sound depressing, because I’m actually happy for you that there seems to be some serious growth and thought in your future. I’m especially happy that you are on good terms with the Church still, and that gives me hope. Anyways, I just wanted to write you one last time to tell you that I’m still and always praying for you, and to ask if you could keep me in prayer as I continue on my journey as well. Thanks for everything Cliff, and I don’t doubt that we’ll see each other again one day.

  18. Laura Says:

    I am so sorry you will be leaving this blog, but it is understandable. I have loved the beautiful images you presented and your wonderful insight. You have lifted the veil for me many times by showing these splendid creations, dedicated to the glory of God. I wish you peace on your journey and blessings on the path that God will reveal to you. Do not count out the priesthood. However, whatever you may do, I know you will glorify God in your work. He has given you a great gift.

  19. Tatiana Says:

    Oh dear. I just recently came upon this blog and loved it.
    Now it has come to an end. That’s so sad.
    I cannot imagine how you feel. So sorry it did not work out for you…
    I confess that I do not pray as much as I should. But I will ask our Father to help you through this.
    Please, will you leave this website on for a while?
    I do not know what else to say except, thank you for loving our church.
    God bless you and reward you for your zeal.

  20. Ryan Haber Says:

    Cliff,

    I am an ex-seminarian and can relate to much of what you wrote. If you like, esp. if you are in the Balto-Wash/DC Metro area, send me an email. I’d love to chat with you if you like.

    Ryan Haber (withouthavingseen@gmail.com)
    Kensington, Maryland

  21. baymedlevel Says:

    I have walked down your road and I know your pain. You will survive and you will be suprised where you end up. Today we do not understand the plan nor see the path, but it’s there. You will find it. Godspeed on your quest!

  22. Damian Says:

    Dear Cliff,
    I’ve been an ex Seminarian from Russian Orthodoxy, Ukrainian Catholicism and 2 different Traditional Seminaries…and now I’m in a N.O. Seminary…It sounds crazy…but it ain’t over till it’s over. If you minutely feel the call still…keep answering until the you hear the operator say “this number has been disconnected!” And if you have received that answer…good luck in whatever you do!
    Dostoevsky says, “beauty shall save the world.” Your website gives me that pride of what once existed and must still exist, if not in stone and paint and wood, and metal and even…sadly liturgy, then spiritually we must be beautiful and transform the grotesque things about us into mirrors shining forth the beauty of the soul…if not a seminarian…be a bright light and don’t abandon those to whom you’ve shown beauty…
    In our Long suffering Lord, and His most Sorrowful Mother,
    Damian

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