Learning to Relent & Learning in Rome

faith Aug 1, 2022

2022 has been busy.

As I mentioned a few posts back, I ended up having the fantastic opportunity to be a part of a Catholic missionary formation programme until about June. ¹

It was a very blessed time for me, bringing me a great group of Catholic friends with a deep sense of community. On top of all this, it was as a great formation in identity & faith as a Catholic as I was being received into the Church. I’m still unpacking a lot of it, honestly.

Over this time I’ve been learning a lot

Since I’ve been home over the summer it's been a bit of a strange period trying to find my footing living out my Catholic faith in an environment where that wasn’t quite the norm for me before. Social dynamics can be a bit tricky, and finding a good Catholic community to settle into is proving a struggle, especially as I’m preparing for my next steps.

But we’re getting there with patience & prayers.

Some lessons that keep getting driven home to me are the ones relating a lot to Relenting and Surrender. Both tough pills to swallow if you’re a stubborn and opinionated individual. ²

But they're important lessons to learn, so here’s some of what I’ve been dwelling on.

Relent

To relent means to ”abandon or mitigate a severe or harsh attitude, especially by finally yielding to a request”. ³ Oh, boy, does that hit home.

I’m a bit of an all-in personality. I like to dive headfirst into things.

But that can also mean when things aren’t going according to plan, I’m prone to a bit of worry and despair. Even so, ceding a plan I’ve set my mind on can be very tricky, even when God’s calling me to other things.⁴

So to relent for me is to remember at times not to necessarily be do-or-die about some situations that I’m waiting to pan out. I’m slowly and surely learning to trust that even if the course is redirected the destination is still in store.

Which ties in quite well with surrender.

Surrender

Surrender is the last step in the process of relenting. It’s the ”yielding to a request.” part of the definition we looked at earlier. But, surrender take a level of trust, especially when it comes to spiritual things, and for me that means at times accepting a bit of ambiguity about what the road ahead looks like.

I always say that when Sacred Scripture say “Your word is a lamp to my feet” ⁵, that the point of a lamp is that it doesn’t show you the whole road but just the next few steps ahead.

So when I was struggling with a surrender problem recently, I phoned a good friend.

He really challenged me to trust the Lord to open the next door I needed, and He has in just the nick of time. But now it’s up to me to start taking the steps to follow that call.

Back in June I was given the chance to study in Rome

I’ll be studying a Pontifical Bachelor’s in Theology at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. ⁶ The first two years I’ll be studying Philosophy, then 3 years of Theology etc. So I’m in it for the long haul.

It’s been a big part of my learning to trust, relent and surrender

Especially in regards to finding accommodation in Rome. It was looking pretty dire for a while there, but then God opened just the perfect door last minute to get me somewhere to stay. I know He has more in store too, and I’m hoping I can be a bit more trusting when the going gets tough.

Practically though, I need to fundraise for many of the expenses, since I’m moving to Italy and paying for rent and tuition over there, as I’ve been out of work for nearly a year while in Scotland.

I was hoping to raise some awareness locally and network a bit to hopefully raise awareness for the plans, and see what came my way since I don’t really feel comfortable just asking people outright for financial support.

But as a wise religious-friend of mine told me the other day, “Sometimes the wisest thing to do is just ask.”⁷

Just Asking

So along those lines, I’ve started a supporter section of this blog. Don’t worry though, I’m not putting a bunch of the main content behind a paywall. Here’s the gist.

For around €15 per month or €135 per year⁸ you can help support some of my studies in Rome. Then on the Supporter Content page, I’ll post some exclusive semi-regular updates on what I’m getting up to there, interesting things I’ve learned/read, or even some photos of my treks around the Eternal City. Small fun things like that.

So if you or anyone you know would be interested in supporting an Irish convert’s studies in Rome, feel free to head over there and sign up! I’m hoping to have the first update there next week.

In any case

I’m just asking, and praying for the grace to relent and surrender to what God brings next in it all.


Footnotes:

  1. You can learn more about that programme here.
  2. Not that I know of anyone like that…
  3. Definition as worded in the Oxford Dictionary.
  4. I’ve had a few huffing episodes over such things, but hopefully less so as time goes on.
  5. That’s Psalm 119:105, ESV-CE
  6. The University is also colloquially called the Angelicum.
  7. Thanks for the reminder Fr. Isaac.
  8. That’s around £12 & £113 respectively

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Jacob

A 23-year-old writer & web developer from Northern Ireland.

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