Considering the Priesthood

Vocations being down in the Western Church is a very big deal. There was always this assumption when I was in High School that it wasn’t so much less people getting the call as it was less people accepting it. This reasoning always sounded rather sketchy to me; how do we know how many God calls to His Priesthood in each generation? But I get the point – we need more Priests.

I was one of the top students in my Theology class and a member of the Columbian Squires, a youth outpost of the Knights of Columbus. So I was indeed once asked if I was planning on becoming a Priest. My shocked reply was “No!”. I wasn’t offended, and the question wasn’t meant to be offensive. It just took me by surprise.

Both then and now, I don’t really know what to think. How do you know if you’re called to marriage or the Priesthood? A dirty secret of mine is that having children terrifies me. Forget even me being a father – it’s the idea that one of my children might die that gets me. Even now, if somebody in my family is out later than they say they will be I’m going to be worried sick until I see them back home. I suppose if I have a biggest fear, it’s loss.

Being a Priest in one sense then does strike me as a little bit more peaceful…not that my responsibilities would be any lesser, but I’m sorry, a diocese that you head is very, very different from a child that you raise. I’m sure married Priests will agree. But then, is this not cowardly? It would be a decision based on fear.

Or would it? I’m not sure what actually scares me more – marriage and fatherhood or the Priesthood. First off, and I very, very rarely mention my family, I think it might kill (this is hyperbole) my parents if I told them that I was going to the seminary to devote my life to serving God’s Church. They’d see it as a waste of my intelligence, and they would HATE that I couldn’t give them grandchildren. And then, being a Priest pretty much becomes everything you do. You move if your Bishop says so. You stay if he says so. No vacation time or break – you’re always a Priest. It’s terrifying in its own way.

And then there’s just me personally. Theology and philosophy fascinate me. I recognize the extreme importance of Mass and I know it’s a mortal sin to miss Mass, and do not disagree with that…but most of the time it bores me. I know, I know. I’m sorry. But it’s true. This is something I really need to get over anyway though, so I don’t even know if it should count against the Priesthood. And of course, I am a sinner – and a bad one. There were less religious people before me, I’m sure, who became Priests. But really, it would seem almost hypocritical to attend Seminary now.

In the end, I don’t know what to think. I don’t THINK right now that I’m being called to the Priesthood. I often think that if I reach 35 and am not married I should join, but then is that the right reason? But how do I know what IS the right reason?

How do I know?

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4 Responses to Considering the Priesthood

  1. blankexpression42 says:

    An interesting, and not uncommon, worry of many young male adolescents today. I’ve often thought about it, too. While I don’t want to turn you away from the possibility, “Pope Malcolm,” consider the point that a priest is addressed as “Father.” In a sense, the people of whatever parish you’d be assigned would become your children, young and old alike.
    Either way, it’s a monumental decision, and I’m sure your family would support you the whole way. That’s what they’re there for.
    When to enter (if to enter at all), is your decision. Talk to people in the seminary, or some of the priests at your parish. You can drop out of the seminary, but you can’t drop out of marriage.

  2. Crude says:

    Well, to give my two cents…

    You probably shouldn’t let ‘fear of children’ drive you to the priesthood. (And what about monastery life?) I mean, if you’re that afraid of it, maybe that’s something to get over. I imagine joining the priesthood is something you do out of a desire to do one kind of thing, not a desire to avoid the heck out of another kind of thing.

    I’m eastern rite though, so our married guys can often become priests.

    On the flipside – being a sinner is not a bar to the priesthood. In fact, as much as priests and all people should strive to be sinless, I really wish this idea of ‘priests should have no flaws’ was lessened. They need some humanizing.

    • I get what you mean. I didn’t mean it quite in the sense of “I want to be a Priest only to avoid children”. It’s just something that’s always been in the back of my mind.

      The real problem I have, though, is that in some ways I’m also very afraid that I might really, truly being called. But then I’m also avoiding the Priesthood out of fear. So which is it?

      I don’t know the answer to that question.

  3. ccmnxc says:

    I’m generally not a fan of commenting on threads long-dead, but this caught my eye. For some context, I’ve been pretty darn sure since probably about second grade that the priesthood was for me. There was no eureka moment. It simply makes sense.
    That being said, I can definitely sympathize with some of what you have been talking about. I have always been a pretty bad worrier. One could says it’s almost been a vice of mine. So the thought of having children (even if I don’t plan on it, simply the thought) simply leaves me paralyzed with fear. Are they happy? Are they safe? Will I be successful in bringing them up as solid, devout Catholics, etc, etc, ad infinitum. Further, the support from my parents hasn’t really been 100% either. I’m not being stopped, but my father, mostly, doesn’t seem terribly thrilled by the idea. Lastly, I am also very much into philosophy and theology, and I have my fantasies about being ordained then immediately being shipped off to further my education. Not likely, but one can dream.
    That being said, while such things may be minor indicators one way or another, one really shouldn’t base a decision of such magnitude on things like fear of having (or more specifically, losing) children and the like. Prayerful discernment is the primary tool, and I don’t think any person should make a vocation decision without a decent time spent discerning. However, paying attention to what other people say is also important. God tends to put people in our lives that can help guide us to our calling, whatever that might be. Heck, perhaps you’re called to a single life of lay service to the Church and community. A person like that can devote their heart to God without having to be ordained and live with the specific tasks that priests are called to accomplish. Lastly, seminaries are places of discernment. Unless my archdiocese is somehow unique, I believe you can leave the seminary if you discern that it isn’t for you. However, once the vows are taken (whether they be priestly vows, consecrated life vows, or marriage vows), there is no turning back. That is it. This is all stuff you’ve probably heard before, but I think a little bit of solidarity is always helpful in such matter.

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