If you are actively discerning a vocation to the Priesthood, Diaconate, Consecrated Life, or Marriage and you are looking for information to help in your discernment, BE SURE TO CHECK the section at the bottom of the right sidebar for the "labels" on all posts. By clicking on one of these labels it will take you to a page with all posts containing that subject. You will also find many links for suggested reading near the bottom of the right sidebar. Best wishes and be assured of my daily prayers for your discernment.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Why Does the Catholic Church Ordain Only Men to the Priesthood? Part Four

By Fr. Kyle Schnipple

The Response to Vocations

As the number of priests in this country continues to decline, the question of who is able to be admitted to Orders keeps being raised. As seen in the previous articles, this question has already been settled. I am convinced that the response to the so-called 'Vocation Crisis' is not in a change to the standards of admittance, but rather in a bold and dynamic avowal of the beauty of the Ordained Priesthood, and the gifts that can flow from a radical connection to Christ in service to his brothers and sisters. Where this vision of the priesthood has been upheld and proclaimed, both among dioceses and religious orders, there is no vocation crisis.

In the video, Fishers of Men, an interviewee responds that considering a vocation to the priesthood should be a part of every male Catholic's life. I wholeheartedly agree with this statement, not only for the mere fact that it would increase vocations to the priesthood (which it would), but also because it would force every person in the Church to ask the question of where God was leading him or her: priesthood, religious life, married life, or single life. If each person struggles with this question, when they come to a final decision, it will not be just because it is the next step. Someone who, after exploring the call to priesthood or religious life, discerns that God is calling him or her to be married, is going to be much more diligent in whom he or she chooses as a spouse, for the awareness grows that "I am looking for the person God has destined me for, not just someone to spend time with."

Finally, a renewed effort to solicit forth those who are being called to the priesthood and religious life will lead to a deeper level of commitment to God and the Church among all the faithful. If potential candidates are serious about following where God is leading them, they will inquire more about their faith and study the content of the faith with greater interest.

One statistic that continually amazes people is that surveys in both this country and in Europe reveal that 36% of young people have thought about the priesthood or religious life at some point, but that most do not pursue it any farther because they do not feel supported, they do not know what to do next, or they think that they are the only ones who are thinking about it. Obviously, if one out of three has thought about it at some point, they are not alone! The responsibility falls to families, parishes, schools, and dioceses to help young people realize that this is a normal avenue to pursue, and that it can lead to great happiness, because it leads to where God might be calling you.

I look at dioceses that are vocation rich. There is no secret to how they have achieved that status. They have not advocated for drastic changes in either who potential candidates could be or in their training. Rather, they simply lift up and maintain the Truth, and Christ, who is the fullness of Truth, leads potential candidates and gives them the courage to be able to respond.

If you have felt the tugging of the heart strings to explore the option to the priesthood, I echo what Pope John Paul II said over and over again: Be not afraid! Do not be afraid to put into the deep and give everything over to Christ. He does not promise fame or fortune, he does not promise success; what he promises to those who are faithful is that he will be with you to lead and guide you closer to himself.

For further reading, please see the following articles:
Inter Insigniores, Declaration on the Question of Admission of Women to the Ministerial Priesthood, by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, On Reserving Priestly Ordination to Men Alone, by Pope John Paul II
Lumen Gentium, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, by the Second Vatican Council
Presbyterorum Ordinis, Decree on the Life and Ministry of Priests, by the Second Vatican Council
Women, Ordination and Angels, by Michael Novak
Priestesses in the Church?, by C.S. Lewis
The Male Priesthood, Argument from Sacred Tradition, by Mark Lowery, Ph.D.
Women and the Priesthood, from Catholic Answers
Why Can't Women be Priests, by Jason Evert
Why No Women's Ordination, by Michael J. Tortolani
Ordination Is Not a Right: Why the Church Cannot Make Women Priests, by Mark P. Shea
Women Priests: No Chance, by Joanna Bogle

Fr. Kyle Schnippel is the vocations director for the diocese of Cincinnati, Ohio.
From CatholicExchange.com

No comments: