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  A Christian Faith Magazine November 2002, Volume 8, Issue 4  
Do What You Will
Daniel Hanley
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Church Steple

I grew up in a wonderful Catholic home with four brothers and a sister. My parents truly raised us in the faith, teaching us both through their words and, more importantly, through the example of their good lives. As a young child, I openly received the faith and believed. As I grew into my later teens, however, I began to turn away from the faith toward other things; by the time I was in college, I had basically stopped practicing my religion. But I was never comfortable in my life away from the faith. I bounced from interest to interest and idea to idea in an effort to find a meaning and direction to life. Nothing I sampled ever let me rest, and gradually, subtly, I began to move back toward the faith of my youth. By the time I entered my senior year of college, I was ripe to return - though I did not know it.

It happened one Saturday that a buddy of mine asked if I wanted to go to Mass the next day. I was surprised at his question because he seemed to believe in and practice the faith less than I. Laughingly, I questioned him about his sudden turn-around. I still remember vividly his reply, "Yeah, I know. But there are a lot of pretty girls at church." I had to concede his point, and so that Sunday off we went.

During the consecration, to my surprise, I was given a gift: to know again as an adult, as when I was a child, Christ's Real Presence in the Eucharist. I felt the deep peace of coming home at the end of a long and difficult trip. At the time of this sudden renewal of my faith, I was not sure what was going on with me, but I knew for certain that I was going to be back at Mass.

After this experience, I was led back into the "meat and potatoes" practices of the faith that build up one's relationship with God. I mustered enough gumption, by God's grace, to go back to Confession for the first time in several years. I started attending daily Mass more frequently, praying the Rosary, and going to Eucharistic adoration.

The Rosary

Following college, I taught history at a Catholic high school for two years and then worked for a U..S. Senator for the next three. During this period, I continued to grow in my faith and began to think about the priesthood. At first I dismissed the idea because it conflicted with my idea of God's plan for me - with what I wanted to do. God was blessing me, I thought, with many opportunities, and I could not believe that he was asking me to walk away from them. I was happy with my career and its prospects, and I had a strong desire for a wife and family. But the thought of the priesthood persisted. I really was not sure what I was meant to do.

Finally, my father, seeing my conflicted state, gave me a good piece of advice. He told me simply to stay close to God through prayer and the sacraments, and "do what you will," trusting that God would reveal His will. That is what I did. I put my vocation into the hands of God under the patronage of Our Lady and continued on my path, trusting that if God had other plans for me, He would let me know. The next year, I entered law school as I had planned and continued to work on Capitol Hill part time.

I spent a successful and stimulating year studying law and I was convinced more than ever that it was the right path for me. Toward the end of the academic year, however - not "having thought of the priesthood for a long while - I was in prayer at Mass one day when I received a clear invitation from God to enter the seminary. I continued to pray about the call I heard, and it was confirmed and reconfirmed. At that, I applied to be a seminarian for the Diocese of Arlington, and I left behind my plan for what I then knew to be God's plan. I do not know what the future holds, but I do know that God holds the future for me.

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