Tuesday, October 10, 2006

what about vocations

Greg at the Crowhill blog takes exception with the defense of celibacy in the latest Crisis magazine.  He is right to criticize an article if the article has shortcomings.  I especially don't like defending the Truth by laying out half truths or ignoring the inconvenient facts.  That type of defense does more damage than good and usually raises doubts about everything else in the dialogue, no matter how solid.
But in many discussions about celibacy and married priests, there is often the forgotten element of vocation.  With the arguments focusing on the practical, the improbable and the impossible, the calling or vocation is ignored.  My wife has asked me a variation of the typical wife question, "If I die, would you...?"  But instead of asking if I would marry again, she asked if I would become a priest if all my kids were grown.  
It is a legitimate question.  And unlike the "marry again" variety, answering it is unlikely to get a husband into hot water.  But my answer was no.  Why?  Because I don't believe I was called to be a priest.  If I was called to be a priest, hopefully I would have heard that call and not chosen the wrong vocation by marrying my beloved wife.  I get the feeling that our world has forgotten the meaning of vocation or a calling.  It is all about what WE want to do with our lives.  We ask children, "What do YOU want to be when you grow up?"  Or if we are daring, "Don't YOU want to be a priest?"  
Notice the central theme.  YOU.  Somewhere in my journey of fatherhood I learned this bit of wisdom from a Catholic apologist.  Sorry I don't remember who, but it stuck with me.  We need to ask our children, "What is God calling you to be?"  Most will answer, "I don't know."  and I tell them that they need to pray about it.  Pray that they hear God's call.  That is one call we don't want to miss.  One of my favorite teachers in high school, Sister Francis Marie, encouraged us to pray three Hail Marys ever day for our future spouse.  I did that and am eternally thankful for that guidance.  Even though my feet strayed from the path, somehow I met my future wife through less than ideal circumstances.  And as St. Paul instructs, our salvation is found through our spouse. 
So how can we ignore that calling and merely argue for the short term gain of "solving the priest shortage".  Kinda reminds me of Abraham and his impatience with the Lord's promise of descendants as numerous as the stars.  Sarah played on his doubts and he went with plan B, having the son Ishmael through Haggi.  Of course that line of thought takes me on another tangent so I will end here. 
We need to teach our children to pray about and discern their vocations.  And we need to trust God that he will call the priests that He needs for His Church.

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