Several faithful HancAquam readers have written to ask if I am discerning whether or not to continue blogging. . .
No, that's not what I am discerning. HancAquam will continue on. . .
I'm discerning questions around the future of my ministry here in Rome. I will not be teaching in the spring as I had hoped. In fact, there will be no teaching for me here until (and if) I finish the Ph.D. That could be two years or more.
I came to Rome with the distinct impression that I would be able to teach as a junior member of the faculty with the license only. Once here I discovered that the Vatican had signed the Bologna Accords (yet another power-grab by the E.U. statists to create a federalized Europe) and now pontifical universities can only allow as teaching faculty those with Ph.D.'s in their respective fields. So, now I have to get the Ph.D.
Recently, I learned that I wouldn't even be able to teach as a "graduate assistant" w/o the doctorate. None of the license exams can be taken until the French translation exam is passed. And there's almost no chance that I will pass that in Jan. So, all my rushing to complete the license this semester has been in vain. Well, not entirely. . .at least the thesis is more or less done.
My discernment question is: are my gifts being used here? At U.D. I was able to teach in the two fields in which I have competence--English and theology. I celebrated Mass four or five times a week, preaching at all of them. I heard confessions and did a lot of spiritual direction. In other words, I was a priest who also happened to teach at a Catholic university. My gifts were being used. . .sometimes to the stretching point! But here? Not so much. It's not clear to me why anyone needs to be a priest to do what I am doing here now.
Don't get me wrong. . .I love the time I have to read and write, and learning is one of my passions. Truly, it is a luxury. But I joined the Dominicans to be a preacher not a professor. . .or maybe a preacher who is also a professor. Had I wanted to spend my life as an academic I could have done so w/o becoming a priest or a Dominican.
The other issue is the need the Order has for Dominican professors in our international centers of study, especially in philosophy. We are drowning in theologians and canon lawyers! But Dominican philosophers are as hard to find as my skills in foreign languages and math.
On top of all this navel-gazing, I rec'd three other bits of unsettling news yesterday . None of which I can share. All of which are hitting me with an odd combination of vocation-questioning power.
Anyway, please pray for me. None of this is meant to be final. . .just thinking and praying and ruminating out loud. I'll do what is needed of me. . .but I'm searching for a way to understand it all.
UPDATE: A commenter below notes--quite rightly--that two years isn't all that long to wait to teach. I say "quite rightly" for a normal grad student. Though bad choices, bad luck, circumstance, accident, and sheer force of will, I've spend most of my adult life as a student:
1988-94 (ABD on PhD)
1994-99 (psych hospital staff)
1999-00 (OP novice)
2000 (PhD finished)
2000-05 (seminary: MDiv)
2005-08 (at U.D.)
2008-pres (working on PhL)
Let's do the math: Started college at 18 y.o. I'm 45 y.o. now. I've spent 19 yrs of those 27 years between 1982 and now as a student. Can I get an AMEN on "I've been a student too long!" :-) And, yes, I know. . .good Dominicans are life-long students. But there's a big difference btw being an enrolled student and Being a Student. I could take my father's advice: "Shut up and enjoy it. They could make you go to work!" HA!
UPDATE 2.0: Something else just occurred to me. . .if you are a professional (doctor, lawyer, teacher, banker, etc.) imagine spending ALL of your time with other doctors, lawyers, teacher,s bankers, etc. I mean, ALL of your time. You live with them. Eat with them. Go to church with them. All of your mundane, daily tasks are done in the midst of them. Perhaps I am just longing to be around everyday Catholics. . .