Posted September 04, 2014 in My Story:
My Greatest Adventure

by Fr. Scott Whittemore, associate priest of MH.

"Have you given your life to Christ? It is a real adventure!"

Those are the words I needed to hear at that time of my life, at that moment when they were directed to me.

I was 35 and had been living a rather adventurous life for the previous 15 or so years.

I thrived on adventure and was often planning the next trip, whether that trip was backpacking or climbing in the Coast Mountains; back country skiing in the Chilcotin wilderness; being flown in a bush plane or helicopter to some remote, mountainous place and finding my way back out, exploring a part of the Amazon jungle in Brazil; trekking in the Himalayas, or meeting the late Mother Teresa in Calcutta.

I was, to say the obvious, a consumer of adventurous experiences.

One of my adventures took me to the Catholic community of Madonna House in Combermere, Ontario. One winter day while I was there, I was out in the forest with a few other guests, splitting firewood.

Near me was a guy who had once been a biker, who had traveled extensively, and who had numerous stories of his own adventures. He was preparing to be ordained a deacon and was on his way to ordination to the priesthood.

"Have you given your life to Christ?" he asked me. It seemed like a strange thing to be asking me. I didn’t know what to say; I didn’t know what he meant.

Before I could say anything, he asserted, "It is a real adventure!"

At that time of my life, the Holy Spirit was giving me a bit of a work-over. A few months earlier I had come to this Catholic community intending to stay only a month.

I had arrived knowing very little about my Catholic faith, but there I learned much about it. I learned about it by living it with the members of Madonna House.

It was there that I had the opportunity to attend daily Mass and to frequently receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It was there that I learned to integrate prayer into my daily life.

It was there that I learned to allow Jesus and Our Lady to be a more central part of my life. It was there that I learned to make many sacrifices out of love for the others I lived with in the community.

It was this living out of my Catholic faith that allowed me to be more available to the work of God’s grace in my life, more available for him to direct me.

There were a number of internal struggles going on within me at the time, as some worldly ways and attitudes resisted yielding to the ways of Truth and Love.

One of my internal struggles had to do with the adventures I sought out and relied on for a certain sense of identity, challenge, and fulfillment.

I had been struggling with the realization that they held too important a place in my life, but I couldn’t let them go. At least not until I heard those words, "Have you given your life to Christ? It is a real adventure!"

Yes, life in Christ has been an enormous adventure, eventually bringing me into the greatest adventure of my life: the priesthood. It was a long, adventurous road to the priesthood, and since then, there has been a never-ending lineup of many new adventures—most of which I would never have chosen for myself.

Reprinted with permission from Diocesan Messenger, Diocese of Victoria, BC, April 2014


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