15 October 2010

Vocations

Well, since I am at a seminary maybe I should post on vocations.

Proverbially, the ability to reproduce oneself is a sign of a healthy vocation: that is, to help young men to find and pursue priestly vocations. If that is the case, then I need to run a diagnosis on my priesthood because I have never yet had someone for whom I was directly pastorally responsible go to the seminary and stay. After 16 years, there ought to be some fruit. One might say that I am suffering from vocational sterility or infertility. It is a good examination of conscience. Of course, just as there are explanations for infertility in the natural order, there are complications that can arise in the order of grace as well. I want to see I can do anything about any of these, not go on a guilt trip.

The Church generally in our culture is not having a great track record with priestly vocations right now. OK, so there are cultural obstacles. But there are also counter-cultural signs out there of vocational success stories. I once told the priests of our diocese when we were in a particularly dry spell with vocations that perhaps we were not attracting vocations because we were not attractive. I can see how that is true for my priestly life. I love it and know the beauty of it, but I fear that too often I show the burden of it instead.

Resolution #1: show the joy of the priesthood and love its crosses

I think that I am not straightforward enough in talking about the glory of my priesthood. I am too afraid of seeming to "push" the priesthood that I fail in letting its glory shine to young men who really are looking for the call to glory. I work with very talented young men, a lot of whom are not particularly excited about their futures in the paths that they are on. What could be more exciting than the priesthood?

Resolution #2: let young men know the glory of the priesthood

I am not virtuous enough. Many sins mar my witness. Many virtues are lacking in my life.

Resolution #3: on-going conversion

I am not enough of a father. They call me that. Am I?

Resolution #4: love them! sacrificially

Well, that should do me for now. When I get these down, I will come back for more! To be honest, I also think that the young men are facing difficulties as well. Here are some of my thoughts in that area:

#1: Not seeking the truth in their lives. They don't ask God what is His Truth for their lives. They, perhaps even unconsciously, have been caught up into the "me-ology" of our culture which is fundamentally subjective rather than objective. They fear even the loving Truth of God because it appears as an imposition from outside of themselves.

#2: Relationship problems. No, not with girls. They simply do not form relationships well or easily so they don't form good relationships with God. They are afraid of relationships. I am no psychologist to analyze this phenomenon, but it is true.

#3: Programmed lives. The young men that I deal with mainly have never failed in their lives. They have never been allowed to. Again probably unconsciously they ask: "Why do I need a savior? If work the plan correctly, I will succeed." They probably know that this is not true, but they do not have the equipment to reach out to Jesus as savior and Lord. They furthermore fear stepping out of the "program" that their parents and their whole life experience have mapped out for them.

How to overcome these obstacles, these fears? The Truth in Love.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Maybe God has a different purpose
for you. After a generation and a
half of confusion about the role of
priests, maybe you are just to make
fertile ground for later vocations.
Unlike my grandparent's generation,
parents don't desire a priestly
vocation for their children, not
just because of the inability to
marry, but putting their children
in the hands of authority that will
send them to places where they
will be misunderstood if they are
faithful to the church's teachings.
For parents to accept that suffering
for their children, they need
examples of men who have been faith-
ful despite all the difficulties.
As far as I can tell, you've done
that. Besides, sixteen years isn't
really that long. You're still a
young man. It takes that long just
to take stock of the situation.
Be of good cheer!

Jenny said...

#3: Programmed lives.

I think related to the fear of leaving the 'program' is the knowledge of the impact such a step will have on their families. Many young people today have zero or one sibling. If pursuing a vocation to the priesthood means the end of the family line or the perceived abandonment of their parents, it is easier to push the thought away.