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The Spiritual Journey of James B. Turchik M.D.
August 24, 2013
Philosophy and Religion > Belief Systems
" In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.'' These words are the opening verse of the Gospel of John in the New Testament of the Christian/Catholic Bible.
These similes, together with the two great commandments — "Love the Lord thy God with thy whole mind, heart, and soul" and "thy neighbor as thyself" — encompass much of Christian belief, and are celebrated in the Catholic Mass by priests daily and Sundays for 80 million Catholics all over the world.
These doctrines have provided direction for my life's spiritual quest to know, love, and serve God. By reading and studying the Scriptures, I have learned priorities in my life which remain: God, family, and my vocation. These priorities are enhanced by the grace given through the gifts of the Holy Spirit including wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, prophecy, miraculous powers, and the other discernments given to some but not all in the Church.
Oft times I have wondered which one of these I have received! I have been blessed in problem-solving in the healing sciences. As a professor in medical school I tried to value the life of every human being (born and unborn), colleague, student, and patient as I progressed in my career. Many choices were required. Prayer and my faith in The Lord served as a great comfort and gave direction.
''Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives.'' [John 14:27] The Lord has provided me with profound peace in my life — yes, that which passes all human understanding. Yet the object of my journey is to deepen my understanding of God through prayer, the scriptures, and the gifts He provides through his grace which is free to all who ask.
As one of three children growing up in a Catholic home with a physician father and a mother with a science background, I received the early gifts of Baptism and Confirmation which gave me the strength to survive the ''slings and arrows'' which the secular world presents to deter us from the good in life, and to know the Lord Jesus Christ and love Him with our total mind, body, and soul.
Did I stray from the straight and narrow path? You bet! Many times, especially through adolescence and young adulthood. But the Lord never gave up on me and helped me to acknowledge my sinful ways, as he continues to do in my later life. Through Mass and regular church attendance, I learned His love, and forgiveness provided the hope to go on.
''For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." [Romans 8:38]
He provided me with a loving wife, Evelyn, who bore me three marvelous children. We have been married 45 years during which we both have grown through the sacrament of matrimony.
My years at Yale provided growth in my mind, body, and soul not only from my Latin studies from Vergil to St. Augustine, but also through Mass and the direction of St. Thomas More House. Strolling through the pathways of colleges named for such Christians as Jonathan Edwards and Timothy Dwight, among others who helped renew the motivation of former Yale alumni, I reflect on the spiritual journeys of our Yale students today. My thoughts lead me to wonder if they remember ''where e'er upon life's sea we sail," and do they strive "for God, for country, and for Yale.''
As for me, I continue my journey and am thankful for the faith that still provides me with the above priorities and the assurance of eternal salvation with our Lord, Jesus Christ.