Before my Intro to the Study of Religion class this afternoon, my classmate Adrienne mentioned that the MDiv students were all writing a chapter from their spiritual autobiographies.  I told her that I was doing a bit of the same . . . .

As I said in my last installment,  this all still feels a bit puzzling.  On the one hand, it feels normal; that is, it makes sense to me, it seems like a natural place to be, and a normal thing to be doing.

At the same time, I have noticed lately a real unwillingness to recognize the ripples this is making: schedules, relationships, responsibilities, perspectives all need to be rethought and reconsidered.

Plodding forward as if today was June 12 and not October 12 is foolish.  And yet it feels as if it is the way I’m operating.  These are mistaken assumptions.

The road that I’ve taken to get here is not one that is entirely clear, and the next step isn’t either.  Much has changed since I started this ‘blog, and yet I am still who I am.

In a lot of ways, I think the best course of action is to face each day with great humility and obedience, asking, “What is to be done today?”  Or, to ask the tri-partite questions of obedience “What do I need?  What do others need?  What do the circumstances dictate, apart from the wants and needs of the people involved?”

Easier said than done.  I would really like some large-scale paradigm definitions, but they’re just not coming right now.  Or maybe it’s that the new paradigm is unparadigmatic.

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So as some you know, I’ve started at the University of Chicago Divinity School in the last few weeks.

It’s gone well, but one thing that’s struck me is the unbelievability of it.

Have you ever gotten to a point, looked around, and wondered, “How did I get here?”

I’ve been wondering a bit about how I ended up in Divinity School, something that I would have never imagined six or seven years ago.

And yet, now it seems quite natural.  Normal.  The idea crept into my head half a dozen years ago, partly in conjunction with reading Gilead by Marilynne Robinson and partly from the perceived freedom of inquiry and exploration afforded by divinity schools.

It is a curious road.  I hope in the next little while to post some reflections on this road.

I see this as a successor to The Wingèd Man’s Faith Journey (here, here, here, and here).

My retreat at Saint Gregory’s went very well.  I was there from Thursday afternoon until Saturday afternoon, spending one full day there and half of two days.  The one full day happened to be the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

The initial reading from Compline —which I have found to be frequently taken from a Church Father or theologian in both Episcopal and Roman Catholic communities— was taken from a sermon foe the feast of the Holy Cross by John Henry Newman.

The gist of the sermon —from what I can recall— was the contradictory nature of the cross, the cruciform dynamic of simultaneously bringing up and taking down, the exaltation of things that (in worldly eyes) ought not be and the humbling or humiliation of things that (again, in worldly eyes) are much esteemed.

While this retreat was intended as a contemplative and prayerful getaway for recharging the mental, emotional, and spiritual batteries, I inevitably thought about my vocational discernment.

While at Saint Gregory’s, I realized something about the nature of vocation.  My first service at Saint Gregory’s was Thursday Vespers, which features the justly celebrated Psalm 139.  Psalm 139 (138 LXX) reminds that God

created my being, knit me together in my mother’s womb.
. . .
Already . . . knew my soul [and]
my body held know secret from [God]
when I was fashioned in secret
and moulded in the depths of the earth.

[God’s] eyes saw all my actions,
they were all of them written in [God’s] book;
every one of my days was decreed
before one of them came into being.

Most often we interpret these verses as dealing with God’s ultimate determination of the length of our lives, with the divine decree that dictates if, when, where, and how we die.  The irony here, of course, is that this psalm is primarily referring to life: “my soul, . . . my body, . . . my actions, . . . my days,” all things, while pertinent to the ever-after, are primarily things of the here-and-now in our experience.

As I sat down to await the dinner bell after Friday Vespers and about 20 minutes of meditation, I began thinking about vocation.  In the last year, I have become progressively more relaxed about my vocation and its formal recognition.  Providence landed me at MyChurch, where my services at the altar and in visiting the sick and homebound were needed, much as listening to the movements of my heart landed me at All Saints’.

Both of these churches and my roles within them are part of my vocation, at least right now.  One of the lovely things about monasticism is the spirituality’s implicit understanding of mutual ministry; within the context of the monastery somebody has to be the confessor to the abbot, somebody has to serve supper to the refectory: while we serve someone in someway right now, that same person will serve us later, and perhaps even at the same time we serve them.

While at MyChurch I am primarily of service, I am also served, whether I realize it or not; the same goes for All Saints’: while I primarily see it as the parish where I am ministered to, I no doubt minister to some while I am there, even if I don’t realize it.  While consciously or rationally, I am aware of a clear distinction between the two parishes, I recognize that the spiritual reality is probably much different.

Already you knew my soul;
my body held know secret from you.

In the end, this post is a kind of prayer, a prayer of thanksgiving.  While at Saint Gregory’s I came to the conscious recognition (I may have already known or recognized this subconsciously or implicitly) that my vocation already is.

My vocation to being a husband and father.

My vocation to being a teacher and poet.

My vocation to being a minister and even a priest of the Church of God.

All these vocations already are:

Your eyes saw all my actions,
they were all of them written in your book;
every one of my days was decreed
before one of them came into being.

There is great relief in this.  While the formal status of my vocation has not been a source of anxiety lately, it certainly is a source of impatience.  I wish so earnestly to not merely be in communion with the Episcopal Church but to be an actual member of the Episcopal Church, not just to be a member but a minister of that church and of service within it.

All this already is, in a sense.  While I am not an Episcopal priest, I am a priest within the priesthood of all believers and minister to my brothers and sisters in Christ.  Just this past Sunday, for example, I bore the intinction cup at MyChurch.  I am already a minister of the Sacrament, even if I am not a  Minister of the Sacrament or the Minister of the Sacrament.

My vocation already is, and I am not alone in this.  Every person’s ministry and vocation already is.  In every case, each vocation/ministry is possible without formal or public sanction or recognition.  While its complete fulfillment and realization (in Spanish, desarrollo) may necessitate outside approbation, its fundamental reality and existence is independent of any formalization.

While I am exercising some modicum of patience toward my discernment and ultimate vocational journey, it is heartening to come to the realization that God’s call already is, and that all it needs is to be recognized —incarnated, if you will— by human institutions.

Ultimately a vocation needs both the divine ordination and the human recognition —what we normally call ordination— to be fulfilled, but it is important to note that the human recognition is not the end nor is it the beginning of the vocation.  After all:

Already [God] knew my soul [and]
my body held know secret from [God]
when I was fashioned in secret
and moulded in the depths of the earth.

[God’s] eyes saw all my actions,
they were all of them written in [God’s] book;
every one of my days was decreed
before one of them came into being.

Today is a busy day, and I was tempted to not post at all or  post simply that I wasn’t going to post, that I wasn’t able to post.

It’s been a big week in our household: in the last week, we’ve discussed the ins-and-outs of home-buying with my parents, found out what kind of help —tangible and intangible— they’d be able to give us, decided to stay in our current apartment for a year, I had both food poisoning parent-teacher conferences for my high-schoolers, and  these are just the things I can ‘blog about.

It’s been a big few months, too: we’ve tried more concertedly to consume less —where we can— to spend less, and to be generally more “intentional” about our lives.  I also made the decision to move from the Lutherans to the Episcopalians, a move which makes me feel much more ecclesially at home as if I have more of a stake in the church.

This is my first Lent where keeping my disciplines has been truly difficult.  Although I fasted the six days I had originally planned —Ash Wednesday, that Friday, and the following two Wednesdays and two Fridays—, I did not fast last week, since I “fasted” while I was sick at the beginning of the week.  I didn’t feel totally well until Thursday, so I think I can be excused.

While keeping up prayer has been difficult due to the Little Guy’s sleep troubles (I find it hard to get up early enough to pray if the Little Guy gets up at night), I am also eating more than I wished.  At the same time, some other personal and family concerns are working themselves out.

The irony is that these these very issues that are working themselves our were part of my Lenten disciplines, too, it’s just that I didn’t tell anyone.  I had resolved to work on my communication with others, trying to be more honest, clear, and loving.  While my “traditionalist” disciplines are taking a real hit this year, my non-traditional resolutions are going well, althought they are not all sunshine and daffodils.

With my abandoned lectio, my food-related illness and subsequent challenges with food-related disciplines, and my difficulties regarding my prayer rhythms, it’s as if God is saying from my own personal Burning Bush, “Moron!  This is not what I’m calling you to!  You read a lot!  You are gastronomically disciplined!  You pray!  Focus on your brokenness, you vainglorious, archaeo-traditionalist-cum-modern-liberal-cum-anarcho-collectivist chump!”  All this should be understood in a “Wingèd Man” type context (i.e., a loving yet teasing voice (James Earl Jones, John Cusack, or Susan Sarandon come to mind; go ahead, imagine the quote in their voices; it’s pretty funny) issuing from my non-functioning hard drive that spins but will not boot-up).

As anyone who has tried to rectify bad habits and patterns knows, fixing them can be uncomfotable and painful, with things that have laid buried coming to light.  Yet this is what Lent is all about.  Not about humiliation or embarassment to make ourselves feel better, but about a certain amount of personal honesty that allows us to be who we are and to make our relationships whole again.

In this way, Lent has been a comfort to me this year; not in the vainglorious way that I had planned, with my self-satisfying fasts and offices, but because things are truly getting better.  I’m still sleep deprived and emotionally tender, but I stand in a better place for healing and wholeness than I did before.

This is my first truly complicated Lent, and I thank God for it.

Today is a busy day, and I was tempted to not post at all or  post simply that I wasn’t going to post, that I wasn’t able to post.

It’s been a big week in our household: in the last week, we’ve discussed the ins-and-outs of home-buying with my parents, found out what kind of help —tangible and intangible— they’d be able to give us, decided to stay in our current apartment for a year, I had both food poisoning parent-teacher conferences for my high-schoolers, and  these are just the things I can ‘blog about.

It’s been a big few months, too: we’ve tried more concertedly to consume less —where we can— to spend less, and to be generally more “intentional” about our lives.  I also made the decision to move from the Lutherans to the Episcopalians, a move which makes me feel much more ecclesially at home as if I have more of a stake in the church.

This is my first Lent where keeping my disciplines has been truly difficult.  Although I fasted the six days I had originally planned —Ash Wednesday, that Friday, and the following two Wednesdays and two Fridays—, I did not fast last week, since I “fasted” while I was sick at the beginning of the week.  I didn’t feel totally well until Thursday, so I think I can be excused.

While keeping up prayer has been difficult due to the Little Guy’s sleep troubles (I find it hard to get up early enough to pray if the Little Guy gets up at night), I am also eating more than I wished.  At the same time, some other personal and family concerns are working themselves out.

The irony is that these these very issues that are working themselves our were part of my Lenten disciplines, too, it’s just that I didn’t tell anyone.  I had resolved to work on my communication with others, trying to be more honest, clear, and loving.  While my “traditionalist” disciplines are taking a real hit this year, my non-traditional resolutions are going well, althought they are not all sunshine and daffodils.

With my abandoned lectio, my food-related illness and subsequent challenges with food-related disciplines, and my difficulties regarding my prayer rhythms, it’s as if God is saying from my own personal Burning Bush, “Moron!  This is not what I’m calling you to!  You read a lot!  You are gastronomically disciplined!  You pray!  Focus on your brokenness, you vainglorious, archaeo-traditionalist-cum-modern-liberal-cum-anarcho-collectivist chump!”  All this should be understood in a “Wingèd Man” type context (i.e., a loving yet teasing voice (James Earl Jones, John Cusack, or Susan Sarandon come to mind; go ahead, imagine the quote in their voices; it’s pretty funny) issuing from my non-functioning hard drive that spins but will not boot-up).

As anyone who has tried to rectify bad habits and patterns knows, fixing them can be uncomfotable and painful, with things that have laid buried coming to light.  Yet this is what Lent is all about.  Not about humiliation or embarassment to make ourselves feel better, but about a certain amount of personal honesty that allows us to be who we are and to make our relationships whole again.

In this way, Lent has been a comfort to me this year; not in the vainglorious way that I had planned, with my self-satisfying fasts and offices, but because things are truly getting better.  I’m still sleep deprived and emotionally tender, but I stand in a better place for healing and wholeness than I did before.

This is my first truly complicated Lent, and I thank God for it.

I’m not sure when this part of the faith journey began.

Did it begin with starting graduate school? Perhaps; I started drinking a little less and was significantly happier than I was in the past.

Did it begin with meeting the woman who eventually became my wife? Perhaps; after this, I drank even less and was even happier.

In any event, this part was most definitely underway right before our son was conceived. I know this because I checked my old breviary out of my alma mater’s library. I say “my” because I had checked and re-checked it out as an undergraduate, holding on to it for most of my four years there. At the time I last checked it out, I was an adjunct faculty member which gave me unlimited borrowing priveleges. I still have the breviary and the library has not asked for it back; they know where to find me. Considering that, from the stamps in it, I seem to be the only person who ever borrowed it, I don’t think anyone’s missed it. If I ever find a 1964 Benziger Brothers English-language breviary, or if anyone ever wants to give me one, I’ll return it.

Some time in early 2004, I began praying the Hours. I prayed using a BCP sometimes, but I preferred my old breviary. During this time we also visited a few churches: a Unitarian church, a Catholic church, even an Episcopal church, and were unsatisfied.

My wife and I conceived our son, and I became more and more interested in religion. I began to have a sense of call. Not to ordained ministry, but simply to relationship with God. I began to read more and more theology and decided I wanted to go to divinity school. Not a seminary, but a non-aligned school of theology.

Then I read Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. Gilead is a special book. I cannot do it justice. In many ways, it was this book that roused in me a sense of call to ordained ministry.

But how? How could this be? I wasn’t even a member of a church! I wasn’t even sure I was a Christian, and certainly not in any orthodox sense. We decided to have our son baptised in the United Church of Christ, with Robinson assisting with the baptism. For about six months after his baptism, we didn’t really go to church at all, but then again, we had an infant.

Then, after Beth and the Little Guy attended a playgroup there, we went to MyChurch, and something really struck a chord. It was liturgical, fairly liberal, and both my wife and I felt at home. My son loved it. The sermons the (now-)former pastor delivered made a profound impact on me and sealed it: I was converted.

Although, at this point, I had not thought of myself as a Christian since I was in college, now I did. Again. Within a month or two, I visited the monastery and the realization that I was also called to be a Benedictine dawned on me.

While things have happened in the intervening time, this brings us up to speed, more or less, with my faith journey. This last phase is difficult to describe because I have difficulty pin-pointing the beginning, but I also can’t figure out where it ended. Because it hasn’t ended. My conversion is ongoing. I turned back to Christ and the Church at MyChurch that day when the pastor said, “The time of Protestantism is over,” and I realized that some Christians really, truly believed in the kind of ecumenical, progressive, evangelical Christianity that —in some sense— was what I had always believed. The Pastor mentioned that someone once asked him, “What would you say to someone who said, ‘What is a Lutheran?’; the Pastor’s reply was, “I’d say, ‘How can I help you?'”

Profound, difficult, even confusing words. Words of conversion. My conversion.

I hope these posts have been helpful in understanding who this Wingèd Man is. I hope they have been enjoyable. I have learned a lot about myself in the process.

A Hazy Shade of Winter

Before it was a Bangles song, it was a Simon & Garfunkel song, although few people under 40 know it.

Trying to find a good metaphor to describe last few years of college through Fall 2001, I fell upon this title.  This time was not “dark,” but neither was it “bright.”  For most of it, I drank too much.  Way too much.

I was writing steadily during this time, but I was also lonely.  I had great friends and had great fun, but I felt rather disconnected from a lot of things.  After unsuccessfully applying to graduate school my senior year of college, things were hard for me.

I think I swung through depression once or twice during these years.  I don’t think of myself as someone prone to depression, but the heavy drinking couldn’t have helped.

In many ways this period, which spanned about 3 years, has little to do with my faith journey directly.  Most people I know have a time in their early or middle-twenties when things were less than stellar personally.  For me it was this time.

Becoming Bahá’í

My only venture into the world of internet chat rooms came one night over winter vacation from college.  Before I knew Beth, I would always go to my parents’ house by myself, and I would often suffer from insomnia while there, usually for the first night, and sometimes on later nights as well.  I eventually figured out that 2010: The Year We Make Contact (starring Roy Scheider, John Lithgow, and Bob Balaban) puts me to sleep in about 20 minutes and cures my insomnia.

At this point, however, I did not know the solution lay as close as an old VHS tape in the living room, so I was left to my own devices.  I logged on, and found a group of religious chat rooms.  All manner of faiths were represented: from Mormons, who attempted to convince me that the Jews had always known about Jesus and were expecting Him, but through wickedness eventually forgot about him, to Hindus.

I had heard of the Bahá’í faith before stepping into their chat room, but had never given them much thought.  It was a fairly orderly place, with friendly, courteous participants.  They directed me to several websites and answered many questions.

I was quite intrigued.  When I told them I went to college in Chicago, they suggested I stop by the House of Worship found in Wilmette.  The House of Worship is not a place of worship in the way a church is.  The House of Worship is not owned or controlled by any local Bahá’í community, and it is the home of no-one congregation.  According to the Bahá’í administration, each community should eventually have its own House of Worship with many appendant institutions like a hospital, a school, an old folks home, and other charitable and service agencies.  For now, there are eight or nine in the world, and they serve as centers of pilgrimage as well as hubs for Bahá’í organization.  If you’re ever at the House of Worship in Wilmette, the small white building across Sheridan Road to the southeast is the seat of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United States.

Bahá’í’s teach that their founder, Bahá’u’lláh, was the Second Coming of Christ, and the fact that very few people took notice of this exiled Persian holy man fulfilled the Gospel prophecy that Christ would come like a thief in the night, like a flash of lighting across the sky, that is there and gone before anyone can notice.  I remember where I was —right in front of the Crown Center at Loyola’s campus— when I thought to myself that being a Bahá’í was a fulfillment of my Christianity.  If Christ’s promises were true and Bahá’u’lláh’s claims were true, then my responsibility as a Christian was to recognize Christ’s second coming.  This realization filled me with warmth and comfort.

I would visit the House of Worship, I read some books, and continued to think about the Bahá’í Faith.  About a year later, at the prompting of a roommate who saw how seriously I was taking it all, suggested I become a Bahá’í.  I decided to do so, and on January 20, 1998, I became a Bahá’í, by declaring my faith at the House of Worship.

It is not an impressive event, and there is not a bit of ceremony.   I went to the office at the House of Worship, and told them of my desire to declare my faith.  A nice woman met with me and spent several minutes convincing me that to be a Bahá’í involves a conversion of heart and not the signing of a document.  She made it very clear that I did not have to sign my declaration card to be a Bahá’í, that I already was one, and that signing the card really meant that I was accepting certain responsibilities as a Bahá’í to the world community of Bahá’ís.  I convinced her that I wanted to sign the card, and I did.

Someone from the Chicago Local Spiritual Assembly (LSA), the Bahá’í equivalent of a parish, met with me and made sure I knew what I was doing.  Soon thereafter, I began attending the local Feasts, which were held every 19 days, on or near the first of the Bahá’í month.  I prayed the Long Obligatory Prayer, which fulfilled my Bahá’í obligation for daily prayer, and even chanted the sacred name of God, Allah’u’Abha, 95 times on a set of homemade prayer beads, before the Universal House of Justice (UHJ), the supereme, global  Bahá’í council, made it obligatory.  (Incidentally, I used the cord and beads from this set of prayer beads to make myself an Anglican Rosary.)  I kept the Fast and voted in local Bahá’í elections.  I would not go to class or work on Bahá’í Holy Days.

But something did not feel right within me.  Bahá’ís are forbidden to drink, and I drank.  At this point in my life, I did not drink as much as I would later, but I would drink on the weekeneds to excess.  This was not the fault of the faith, as much as it was an indication that I was not mature enough to become a Bahá’í.

Additionally, Bahá’í claims of the equality of the sexes did not hold true in their practice; for example, women are forbidden from service on the Universal House of Jusice.  Gay Bahá’í’s, and I knew a few in the Chicago LSA, were advised to seek counseling to “cure” them of the disease.  Bahá’í claims of the unity and purity of the faith seemed undermined by the UHJ’s labeling dissenters as “covenant breakers” and ordering all Bahá’ís to shun them.

Whoever Bahá’u’lláh was, his followers certainly hadn’t lived up to his teachings.  Gradually, as I saw that many of the things that disenchanted me about the Catholic Church were also present in the Bahá’í faith, I fell away from it.  I gradually stopped going to Feast, stopped praying, and began drinking more heavily.

I began to enter a period of pluralistic agnosticism which coincided with a time of profound unhappiness.  I drank too much, I often felt lonely, and it didn’t help that some of my best friends also drank too much.

Answering a request by Nelson, I’ve decided to write a little bit about how I arrived at the current form and expression of my faith. This will be part 1 of . . . probably four or five.


A Catholic Childhood

I was brought up in a Cuban-American household of average devotion.  My mom would take me to Mass occasionally when I was a little boy. Right at Communion, she would usually scoop me up and lead me to the car.

After my brother was born and we moved to a bigger house, my mom became more devout.  I’m not sure what brought that about, but she was a little older then than I am now.  Maybe it has to do with the age:  late-20s and early-30s.  Maybe this is a time predisposed to religious awakenings and conversions.

Anyway, I attended Catholic schools, all the way through college.  In the second grade, I made my First Confession and First Communion.  My first confession was to Father Mericantante, who now works in a small immigrant parish in Pahokee, which is near Lake Okeechobee in Southern Florida.  My first regular confessor was Msgr. Reilly, the pastor emeritus.

I really liked Msgr. Reilly.  He’d listen to this little boy’s confession, and when my eyes would wander to the ceiling, so would his.  Sometimes I’d imagine that he was trying to see there whatever I was seeing there; it was never an apparition, unfortunately, just an attempt by an embarassed kid who was trying to be good.  At the end of confession, he’d usually pat my leg and say in his Irish brogue, “You’re a good boy,” and give me a pennance of three Our Fathers, three Haily Marys, and three Glory Be’s.  A light sentence.

Msgr. Reilly died when I was in fifth or sixth grade, and my Boy Scout Troop helped during the wake and the funeral.  I was sad when he died because he seemed like a genuinely good man who cared abou tothers.  After him, I did not have a regular confessor until fairly late in high school, when Father Munguia heard many of my confessions.  During my middle school years, I  went for confession with Father Francis or Father Whittaker.

An interesting study in confessors, these two: Father Francis was a Nigerian priest with a friendly affable demeanor.  In the classroom, however, he demanded silence and strict discipline.  And in the confessional, watch out: his unusually long index finger would wag at you after you finished confessing your sins, shaming you and otherwise making you feel bad.  Father Whittaker, on the other hand, was an unpopular pastor and a bit of an authoritarian.  Although he did renovate the church, many of his decisions and policies were very unpopular; he was often thought of as being a bit “holier-than-thou.”  His line for confession was always very short, so I was often encouraged to go to him, and I did, since I was fairly obedient kid.  Father Whittaker was really pleasant in the confessional. Reassuring, kind, understanding, he would listen, offer advice, correct, and encourage.  I didn’t leave the confessional with the feeling that I was a sinner who was doomed to fail.  Instead, I felt as if I had left my sins behind me.

As I recall, I always found it hard to finish my pennances.  We usually went up to the altar rail to pray them, and give thanks for absolution, and I remember fidgeting quite a lot up there, often skipping words or prayers.  I don’t know why I did that.

I was confirmed in the Eighth Grade; my confirmation name was “George,” which was foolish, since Saint George was already my patron.  I wish I could get confirmed again, and take a new name like “Benedict” or “Gregory,” but confirmation is not that kind of sacrament.  I missed out on a chance to get a new name, and I probably won’t get that chance again.  I wish I hadn’t been confirmed in the eighth grade, not because I didn’t believe —at that time, I did—, but because it really didn’t mean that much to me.  Besides, I think I committed a mortal sin the afternoon before I got confirmed, which I’m pretty sure means I committed a sacrilege and invalidated the sacrament.  Maybe I was never confirmed after all.

As I got older, I became more serious about my faith.  Although I was never an altar boy, in the sense of being on the regular roster of a parish’s mass servers, I had occasion, usually during retreats or at school, to assist a priest while he said Mass.  I have always been a pretty observant person, and as a kid I think I was even more so.  The basics of  serving a Mass within the current Catholic rubrics are pretty simple.  As a teenager, I became a lector and then a Eucharistic minister, first at my parish and then at my high school.

During high school, I wondered —honestly and never aloud— about whether or not homosexuality was wrong, and about Catholic teaching about sexuality in general.  Although I am not gay, I was a regular teenage boy, which meant I had hormones raging within me.  The mandatory celibacy of priests was also troubling to me; Peter was married after all, so why not today’s priests?  The fact that, even then, married Episcopal and Lutheran clergy converting to Catholicism were being allowed to become priests; why not Catholics?  I think this was the beginning of the end of my life in the Roman Catholic Church, but this process would take years.

By the end of senior year, I was very devout, and continued that way through my first year in college.  Then things get fuzzy, partly because I began drinking in earnest and partly because I began exploring the Baha’i Faith.