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.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

"Why we have shortage of priests" and "The Man Who Planted Trees"

Last night I stopped by the blog of Christopher Osgood and found the post below. When ever I show the "Fishers of Men" video to a group of teens, especially a group with girls in it, I tell them that while God may only be calling a few of the boys in the room to the Priesthood, they are all called to support and encourage the ones who are. The reality is that ones friends and family have a tremendous impact on those discerning a call to the Priesthood or Religious Life. From Christopher:

Since the beginning of last school year in August. I have slowly started to tell people that I am interested in the Catholic Priesthood. It seems that everyone was all for it. Both Catholics and Protestant's. The Protestants really didn't understand the whole celibate thing, but they were all for it. The Catholics were all excited because the knew how bad we need priests.

Well, as the year went on, I told more and more people about my vocation. I can remember meeting with different vocation directors and asking questions, from many different diocese's and also religious orders. I found many different places that I would love to serve the Lord as a priest. But, I just never felt the click or the since of that is where I should be. Not until I met with Fr. Kyle from the Arch-diocese of Cincinnati.

After Christmas break, people would then start coming up to me (Catholics), and they asked me, "Are you still thinking about the priesthood?" I said, "Yes, of course! Why?" And I get the response, "You can serve God in other ways, you don't have to be a priest. You could be a dad and have a family and still serve God." (Yes he could, but not as effectively or joyful as if he is called to the Priesthood.)

I understand that they want me to be happy, but these are the same people who encouraged me to search this vocation of mine. They told me that we need priests! Now they are telling me not to become a priest? Why? Whats wrong here?!

Then I hear from some of these people, "Priest's should get married and they should allow women priests. So you don't have to become a priest, they will change it so you can have a family." (Newsflash... no "they" won't.)

WHAT?!?!?!?! These are Catholics saying this!!! My Protestant friends are the ones that are confused about this vocation, but they encourage it! The Catholics understand this vocation (or should), but don't encourage it.

How can we fix this?

I replied to Christopher's question in his combox:

You won't fix it, but God willing you are ordained a priest, you will be given the responsibility of forming those entrusted to your care. From pre-school to RCIA and beyond, you can preach the truth and promote a culture of vocations, where every individual truly understands what it means to be called by God to a vocation.

There's a wonderful book and video titled "The Man Who Planted Trees" by Jean Giono. Short story shorter, it is about one man who began planting about two hundred acorns a day in a dry and desolate land. In almost total silence and solitude he went about planting his trees, until at the end of his life the entire region had been converted into the "land of Canaan" - a forest once again inhabited by people. The point being that if he had set out to plant a forest in one day, he would have surely become discouraged and failed. However, he set out to plant one tree at a time. It's a beautiful metaphor for what we can do...


Unknown said...

A dozen years ago before I left for seminary, the most common comment I got from my suburban neighbors when I told them my plans (you know, people who are members of suburban parishes, put their 2.1 kids through the parish grade school because it was a better "private school" and bragged about being buddies with priests...)

Don't do that! You'll find a girlfriend!"

The message being clear - I wasn't such an unattractive loser that I couldn't do far better than becoming a priest!

I later came to suspect that a young man taking a step to be a sign of contradistinction to all that we hold dear in the US - sex, money, fame - is a challenge that bothers people who themselves may feel guilty how NOT seriously they take their own faith. Sure they will put $25 in the collection plate on the Saturday nights they do go to Mass... But give up their granit-counter-top homes, his & hers SUVS, birth control, sex, money?

Now that is just plain crazy!

Chris Osgood said...

That is a great video and story. I just watched it!