Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Taking Time to Discern – When What is Right and What is Easy Don’t Align
By Friar Charles McCarthy, OFM Conv.
In “Part Two: A Time to Choose,” in Let Us Dream, Pope Francis emphasizes our need to discern and understand the reality in which one
lives before deciding to take action. Paul writes, “What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate.” (Rom 7:15). Paul wades through the conundrum of right judgment toward right action (“to act concretely to heal and repair”), we need to decide reflectively.
“Should I stay, or should I go,” lament Jones Michael Geoffrey and Mellor John in The Clash. “If I go, there will be trouble, and if I stay, it will be double…” asking someone “else” to make the decision. Francis councils, the answer needs to come from within – or we stay in “sin” (“paths that lead nowhere or backward,” in an “isolated conscience”).
Pope Francis encourages us:
“Between the first step, which is to come close and allow yourself to be struck at what you see, and the third step, which is to act concretely to heal and repair, there is an essential intermediate state: to discern and to choose. A time of trial [distinguishes] the paths of the good that lead to the future from other paths that lead nowhere or backward. With clarity, we can better choose the first.” (Let Us Dream p.52)
What happens when one is drawn by two equal values? Should I stay or should I go? Without taking seriously the responsibility (to respond ably) of a need, one sees – that no one else is taking on. It also becomes a question of “obedience” – or call.
I serve a budding ministry among Native Peoples in Albuquerque. With COVID’s impact, the ministry has gone to remote connections and the USPS. Simultaneously, a friar pastor of a parish, served by the friars since 1910, in Louisville became infected by COVID and was unable to continue his ministry. I know the community there. I am committed to the community here. You know Jesus’ little quip of “they are like sheep without a shepherd.” The compassion to fill in the gap, to go to Louisville, “for a while,” was strong. But I do not want to leave Albuquerque either.
“Here I am!” welled up! And I listened. Now, I am doing the “crazy” thing of serving the Church in disparate places and cultures – a few weeks here, a few weeks there, but in contact with both ministries each day. The ability to do this comes from seeing, discerning, and then responding.