Arfink’s Post-Holiday Update
Hello, Team Orthodoxy readers! It’s been a long while since I posted anything here; at least a few months. I just wanted to share some updates on my work, both as a Catholic artist and as a contributing member here at Team Orthodoxy.
But first, here’s a glimpse of a piece that I’ve been working on over the past few months — this is an engraving I made of Mary as Mater Ecclasiae, which is based on a mosaic in St. Peter’s Square. Making this piece marked a major milestone for me in that it put my skills as a designer and artist to the test for the first time.
As to what I’ve been doing lately, during the past 7 months or so, I’ve gone from working in a bakery to working part-time as a graphic design contractor. At the same time as the contracting, I’ve started my own art business on the side, which has been a huge challenge. For one thing, going to seminary really put my faith down deep into my bones, so I can’t escape from the conviction that I must do my best to be the saint I am called to be. This is in stark contrast to the harsh and uncharitable reality of the business world, where I see men use and betray each other for profit. While working for myself sets me free from many of the sufferings that the ordinary working world provides, it also brings its own set of challenges to a life of faith.
These new experiences — the fun times and the suffering — have been accompanied by a huge outpouring of grace. When I left seminary, my faith was badly wounded. Despite knowing in my head that I was not called to be a diocesan priest (which was affirmed by the staff), I could not shake the feeling that I had somehow made a horrible mistake. I had a degree, but not a useful one. I had debt, and no way to pay it back. I didn’t even have my old dreams, and couldn’t bear to just settle back into my old selfish desires and empty dreams. I felt like I had taken the stupidest risk anyone could take, and now that I had messed it all up, I was irredeemable.
It wasn’t long before my resentment towards myself tainted what was left of my faith, and became resentment towards the seminary, the Church, and those who had encouraged me to attend seminary. Even though I wanted to leave my old sinful life behind me, I couldn’t see a new life waiting for me, and so fell back into my old ways. The Lord let me keep the grace of going to Confession and Mass every week, but my faith was stunted. I was scared to dig any deeper, because I didn’t trust anyone at all.
Then in July, things finally began to change: I met some people who, by the grace of God, called out something better from me. Some of these people were just good friends who helped me to let go of the resentment. One person taught me what it means to love someone, even when you don’t get much back. I also found a spiritual director. The Lord showed mercy to me and, while not giving me everything I wanted, sent me what I needed. He didn’t give me a way to go back to school, but He sent me mentors. He didn’t give me a job that’d put me out on my own in the world, but He gave me enough to pay the bills. He didn’t give me back my old friends, but he sent me new ones.
Through all this, He also revealed a little of what He wants me to be doing. The mentors He sent helped me uncover gifts I didn’t know about, and find new uses for the ones I did. For example, I knew how to wrap my head around complex philosophical ideas and share them via tutoring or writing, but was also shown how to share them with art. I’m slowly beginning to see how these can combine into something that I can give back the Lord: my calling. I can do a million things with these gifts as a job to pay the bills, and of course I will have to do some of that. But my desire is to pull all these elements together in such a way as to help illustrate the faith.
So, I’ve been led here to Team Orthodoxy, where I can make and share comics that explain the faith. Through my side business, I’ve been led to craft Catholic-themed engravings and art, and I have inklings of future projects that carry this further. I’m sure the Lord has more such work planned for me which I cannot yet imagine.
I’m looking forward to continuing here in the future, though I’m not sure if my involvement will change course. While my Spiritual Life 4 N00bs series has been well-received, I’m also interested in creating other kinds of content. If you would like to see more of my work, feel free to visit my personal blog, Weasels Go Narf, or check out my online store.