Adventure in Catholic terms: ‘You were made for greatness’

All afternoon I had been hunkered over my MacBook, perched above a frozen lake and watching the sun cast pink into the clouds. I was thinking about what lie dormant and all the possibility below, waiting to thaw.

My task at hand: editing a cover story about three Catholic families who had taken radical leaps of faith. One couple moved to Costa Rica with their baby to do mission work. One man felt called to head up a floundering radio station. Another family set aside their jobs and rented out their home to embark on a year-long cross-country RV trip, prodded by a sensation many of us recognize. 

“Life was starting to rule us, not the other way around,” the 40-year-old mom said she had realized one Wednesday evening during her son’s karate class. “We felt we were losing time.” 

Their travel is reshaping them. Worshipping at tiny desert churches and ancient cathedrals has made them appreciate the universal church. And the time together in tiny quarters, the experience of truly putting family first has been restorative.

When the year is over, they’re determined to apply their lessons from the road. They plan to do a homeschool hybrid – two days at a local charter school and three days at home – rather than the traditional school their son had attended. They vow to camp monthly to continue the intense family bonding begun in their RV. And they pledge not to overcommit, to never agree to something on the spot but rather say, “That sounds great; let me get back to you after talking to my spouse.” 

As I kicked around cover lines for the story, I considered phrases like “leap of faith” and “bold journey.” But one word felt most apt, dulling in any paraphrase: adventure. Somehow it contains both courage and motion, stretching long like an open highway and propelled by the vehicle. 

Webster’s defines it as “an exciting or remarkable experience” and “an undertaking usually involving danger.” It originates from the colloquial Latin word “adventura,” “what must happen,” which conjures a sense of destiny – the thing with burning urgency that can no longer be delayed or denied.

That evening my friend Stephen came over to discuss the epic road trip he was about to begin: driving from Minnesota down to the bottom of South America to take in Patagonia. He’d just been at a party where people were swapping definitions of adventure, he told me. For him, it involved the new, “going into the unknown.” 

I’ll be following his travels through Instagram while staying put. Days after he hits the road, I’ll be going into labor. 

A sense of peace washed over me as I listened to Stephen. I know my next adventure ordained by God is about to begin, and though mine centers on a rocking chair and a dimmed nursery, it is no less thrilling. What greater adventure could there be than raising a child?  

I felt happy for both of us, thinking in that space beyond comparison, where you see how unique and worthy each path is and would never hold them up together. 

That night I Googled quotes on adventure for the back of the magazine, circling around words from Helen Keller and the ever-quotable G.K. Chesterton. Suddenly the answer flashed in my mind: a statement from Pope Benedict XVI: “The world offers you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” 

That’s the true meaning of adventure, whether you’re in Patagonia or in pajamas at home: the times you push beyond comfort to achieve your greatness designed by God. 

Christina Capecchi is a freelance writer from Inver Grove Heights, Minn.

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