Monday, 15th January, 2001: In which I continue to wrestle with the Call to Adelaide

Continuing my reflections from yesterday. This is what others have said:

P. and Peter Holmes were initially of the opinion “Take this call if you can and still continue the process into the Catholic Church.” That was on the morning after I received the call--Wednesday week ago. I said, I would check this out with John Fleming at dinner on Friday night.

Then, I asked my spiritual director to come around that Friday (5th January)--he spent all afternoon with me talking on the back patio.
He raised the following points:

  • There was a chiastic relationship between me/Cathy and family/ministry, or, from another aspect, me/ministry and Cathy/family.
  • I should not to see this call egocentrically, as this may be just as much God’s offer of a new calling or new direction for Cathy as for me.
  • Family is an issue for Cathy--maybe this will be a time of stability, providing space to concentrate on our immediate rather than extended family.
  • The call would provide the structure my life needs
  • time with the pastor who was my partner at Warradale was a life saver during a past crisis--it could be again.
  • Shifting to Melbourne has been creative for my relationships with others, especially with Cathy (and here he reiterated his general ethical criteria that things are the will of God if they are both creative and loving). But Cathy has never moved--this “uprooting” may raise very significant feelings that need to be expressed.
  • In a year’s time, what might we wish that we had checked before making our decision? sit with Cathy and consider what this may mean for Cathy’s existence? my existence? Allow eachother time to have a voice.
  • Talk with another pastor’s wife about shifts that they have experienced.
  • There was a sense in which everything came together for me for a while in Melbourne--this time may be coming to an end.
  • The hardwork is too make sure that as much as possible Cathy gives voice to her feelings and to leave nothing unturned that may turn up a year down the track.

I recalled to him that Cathy had, on several occasions in her conversations with others, used the expression “A sword hanging over my head/our heads” in relation to this call.

My director also expressed the fact that he has been anxious for me regarding how long I could sustain simultaneous ministry in Knox/Casey/Frankston before I became unstuck.

On the way to Pete and Susie Holmes for tea tonight with P. and his family and Fr John Fleming and his wife, I said to Cathy that I was inclined to take the call on the proviso that I could continue my preparation for entry into the Catholic Church in the Melbourne Diocese. This would also ensure that we would, after a period of a few years, return to the Melbourne fold. She said that this was quite a different proposal, and would be acceptable to her because it would mean that a) I would be continuing the process I had begun and b) we would not be away from Melbourne for ever.

The meal was very enjoyable--and memorable, if for no other reason than that over the next few days everyone who was present there--except the Schütz-Beatons--came down with a terrible 24-hour gastric virus! ("It was the salmon mousse!") Unfortunately this meant that on Sunday (7th January), we were short one godfather for Mia’s baptism. P. was still critically ill at the time.

John and Alison Fleming were very good company for us all. We plied them with many questions, and they did the same to us. John gave P. a particularly hard time over his hesitation to actively affirm the Catholic faith. P. objected that he needed a clear call to enter the Catholic church. John said: “I am a priest of the Catholic church and I am telling you to come.” P. also said that the fact that our seminary professor and mentor has remained in the LCA and continues to oppose conversion to Rome is a big factor. “How could he, who has been such a guiding light in my life be wrong?” “Yes,” said Fleming, “I acknowledge that he is a good man, a wise man, even a holy man, but he is wrong on this point. The pope is also a good man, a wise man, even a holy man. The only difference between your professor and John Paul II is that one is pope and the other isn’t. One has universal authority in the church and the other does not. Which one are you going to heed on this point?”