By Fr. Corey Close
As the summer draws to a close, the first year of my priesthood takes a definite shift. While the first few months were characterized by moving quickly from one parish to the next, filling in for various priests, I am now settled more permanently at the parish of St. Mary’s in Rockville, Md., while pursuing the last year of my studies at the Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, D.C. I will be helping out by saying some daily Masses as well as some Sunday Masses, and hearing confessions once a month.
I go to school three days a week (Mondays through Wednesdays) and have readings and assignments, as well as my final paper to work on. I am now on the campus of a major undergraduate university for the first time in seven years. I walk the campus and the halls along with the newly arrived freshman, and study in classes with young post-grads. I ride the subway to school for 45 minutes, seeing the faces of many different people going about their normal routines, reading their newspapers or books, traveling to and from work.
As I walk the campus observing freshman experiencing college for the first time and as I ride the subway seeing the professionals on their commute, I can’t help but marvel at God’s particular plan for me, how unpredictable it truly is. Seven years ago I decided to enter seminary, thinking I would spend six years at Mundelein Seminary and then begin ministry in the Davenport Diocese. Little did I know that I would go to Rome, and little did I realize that my final year would be here instead of in Rome.
It has been said that “When we make plans, God laughs,” but I think we can add a second part to the phrase: “When we let God make the plans for us, we laugh with him.” There is something extraordinary to letting God be the driving force in our lives. He takes us to places we never thought we’d get to, and to be a person we never thought we could be. So often in our lives we are tempted to not bite off more than we can chew; we hesitate to bite at all. We so often want the safe answer, the calm answer, the answer that always allows us to stay in our control, but by controlling what little we can control, we lose out on everything else. By being content with what is in front of us, we lose the wondrous horizon that always lay beyond our reach.
Life is not about being in control, it is about giving it up. This is surely counter-cultural. We are told to grow up, be in command of our lives, take our place in the world; but I am telling you now that the only thing that road leads to is boredom. And even if we are somewhat committed to letting God have control, out of fear of failure, maybe we piece out little parts to him, like placating a child with a small snack. We cling onto the majority of our lives because, well, when push comes to shove, I have to look out for my happiness; no one is going to do it for me.
But God is happiness itself! Will he not give us himself if we give him our life? Surely he will give us not only himself, but everything else we ever wanted. True, the journey will be hard, very hard at parts, but I think that is far more preferable to the safe dullness of a boring life without him. If you’ve ever wanted life to be an adventure, something that always surprises you, that offers something amazing and beyond your power at every turn, then let God take control of your life. You’ll never know where you are going, but you’ll never regret the journey.
(Fr. Corey Close was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Davenport in June. He expects to complete a Licentiate in Sacred Theology at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at The Catholic University of America during the 2012-13 academic year.)