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?