Friday, August 31, 2007

I AM NOT ALONE


As a little kid one of things that I feared that I would grow up and have a job in which I did the exact same thing in the same place every day. In kindergarten I contemplated being a bus driver because I liked our bus driver so much until I thought about driving down the same streets every day.

I am typing this up on Thursday because I know how busy I will be on Friday. There are few minutes to waste between a visit to the funeral home and having a wedding rehearsal for a wonderful couple. There is a great song playing on my computer and it’s a beautiful day and God is good. God I love being priest.

Being a priest was just first on my list. There were other things that I was willing to do if this did not work out. I do not regret this choice one iota. Can you imagine part of your job is working on your relationship with God and keeping your salvation in check?

Tuesday mornings I meet with some other priests for coffee and talk. I said this week, “This life is so great! I don’t understand why more men don’t do it.” Fr. O said that there was a study done about priest to determine their happiness with their vocation. Overwhelmingly priests say that they are satisfied or better with their life choice. This is backed up by a diocesan poll in which the priests of the Diocese of Cleveland stated the same sentiments. But the interesting thing is that although the majority of us are happy, our perception is that many other priests are not. So we think, “I must be the exception” and so hesitate to recommend the life to others. (Those who know me know that this is not the case here.) Thus with faulty perceptions we perpetuate the vocation crisis.

If you are considering a vocation let me tell you that if it is the life for you, there is nothing better. Don’t choose another lifestyle because others pressure you into it. Marriage is a true calling. Single life is a true calling. Church vocations are a true calling. It is a rare person who will be perfectly fine in any of these and it is sad how many people choose one for reasons other than responding to that for which they were made and called. Don’t be one of those.

The first question is not, “What lifestyle do I wish to live?” The first question is, “How can a best bless God with my life?” and then you choose a lifestyle to fit it. I had to give myself to Him in this way and for me it is absolute freedom. Oh, there are bad days, but they have to do with situations, not the priesthood. May you too know contentment in your vocation whatever it may be.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well put! There was an article on Spirit Daily where a woman, who did not want to join the convent, dedicated her virginity to God. Many, many moons ago, there was a ceremony for this dedication. It is almost non-existent any longer...however, with this article, this ceremony is making a come-back.

Although I have thought about the convent when I was in college, now that I'm in my 40s and in the "working world", I have found that I can evangelize where I am. I have recently consecrated my heart & soul to Mary's Immaculate Heart & joined the Militia Immaculata (founded by St. Maximillian Kolbe, who's feast day is on my b-day). Coincidence - I think not.

God works in mysterious ways...and since reading this article on Spirit Daily, I have been discerning about giving my virginity to God. I'm not certain about the whole 'pomp-n-circumstance' celebration (from what I read, similar to a wedding), but something more intimate & spiritual.

Cathy_of_Alex said...

Excellent post, Father. In my observed experience, the happiest priests are the priests that are most faithful to the Magisterium. This seems to contradict the beliefs of the liberals who want us to think there is no happiness to be had by actually loving and living the Faith as a true Servant of God.

Anonymous said...

Good points.. in my experience, the happiest priests seem those who've been obedient to their Bishops, whether they liked each other or not. The respect I have for obedience comes not from sheepdom, but from Francis' and Pio's love for all things Christ.

(A different Anonymous, and no, this is not from Fr. V's bishop!)

Rob said...

Fr V,

Thanks. It is good to hear that priests LIKE being priests. My mother, very liberal on the Church, always gripes about how we need married priests to "solve the problem" and how terrible it is to be a priest.

Liberals just complain because they can.

Married clergy hasn't seemed to "solve the problems" with any of the Protestant sects. It certainly doesn't keep a man from abusing children. ANd exactly what is "the problem"? Whenever someone starts to gripe about the Church, we should always ask them, "So what is the problem?" They will either give you a lame answer that you can easily vanquish, or they realize they "can't verbalize it." Then you can say, "Right. You don't know what the hell you're your talking about."

Adoro te Devote said...

Great post. I remember reading that article about the happiness of priests/job satisfaction.

Funny how articles like that don't get a lot of press, but boy, if someone has something negative to say it's all over the media and being blown out of proportion.

I agree with what others have said; the happiest priests are those who are faithful, and of course....their parishioners are happier, too.

For all of us, it's hard to know what to do with our lives and where we are supposed to serve. All choices involve risks, do all any of us can do is intend to do God's will, and that way even if we choose incorrectly, God can help us get back on track. He honors our intentions, even when we flub up.

Fr. V said...

I was thinking about you guys said about the happiest priests being those who are obedient . . . It makes sense doesn't it? I mean can you imagine basically marrying the Church and then being in contradiction to it every day of your life - defending yourself against it - it makes for a "disfunctional family" I guess. I'd say your observations are quite right on.

Rob - it's funny that the just about the only people I hear saying that it is aweful being a priest is from non-priests.

Adoro - Yes. And I finally started feeling Okay about that when I accepted that the news media is not out to tell the truth but to sell their product. Ah well.

Anonymous said...

John Allen from National Catholic Reporter said in an article about Evangelical [traditional] Catholicism:
dioceses with a strong emphasis on traditional Catholic identity generate more priests. Comparing 10 dioceses identified by a cross section of experts as either “traditional” or “progressive,” they found that traditional dioceses outperformed progressive ones in terms of ordinations by a factor of about 3 to 1.

Here in Australia there seems to be a push to undermine the priesthood as much as possible, complain about the lack of priests and then push for: the ordination of married ex priests and the abolition of mandatory celibacy.

The only priests with whom I am in contact behave like underpaid social workers who are dreaming of retirement. I wish there were more priests around who dress like priests and act as if they love being priests. The young men here have almost no role model priests.

Anonymous said...

National Catholic Reporter of the years-old Abuse Tracker fun isn't a reporter of Catholicism, so don't listen to that rag for a second. And John Allen is or at least was wrapped up tight with Dignity USA year after year, and there are extraordinarily questionable guests at every gathering. That's not gossip, nor news. It's fact. Unlike Fr. Greeley's dozens of romance books.

Keep your eye on Diocesan newspapers..they are suddenly filling out, as are the bulletins. But indeed, vocations are down (except for the Diaconate) probably globally. Well, our Papa Ben had a thought about that a while ago, didn't he? That the Church will be smaller but more real. So be it. We have been entrusted with an enormous job. It has a deadline.

(JustMe)

Fr. V said...

Hopefully in Australia things might pick up a bit with World Youth Day coming and all. That's a shame - and the worst part is we keep seeing the same thing over and over again and that it doesn't work but so many keep plowing straight ahead like a horse with blinders on. *sigh*

Just a clarification JustMe, actually world wide vocations are up. In the west they are down - but particularly south of the equator it is on the rise. The U.SA. was a mission country until the 1920s, perhaps soon we will be again . . .

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post Father. I just stumbled upon your blog this evening and was graced to come across this post.

May the Lord of the Harvest send us many more zealous priests who happily embrace the blessed vocation to the priesthood.

I will be entering a contemplative community later this month (this month?!?!) and though the world thinks I'm crazy and I have been explicitly told by family and friends that the path I have chosen is a "tragic waste" of my life I have never been happier nor more at peace than since making the decision to follow God to the monastery. The world may view a contemplative life as a tragic waste, but ironically I cannot think of anything more meaningful, fruitful, or fulfilling that I could do with the very life God has given me.

I think that it is important for young people like myself who are discerning their vocation to not become overwhelmed by the big picture. Simply seeking and responding to God's will with sincerity of heart day by day is what is essential to lead us to where He wants us to be in the long run. My approach is "If I do God's will today, it will lead me to where He wants me to be tomorrow." This approach does not mean your life will simply unfold before you but rather requires a willingness to act and respond to God's will for you each and every day as He reveals it.

Fr. V said...

Yes! Far, FAR, FAR, from a tragic waste! IF it was only better understood how much we need people like you - and for more reasons than most people think.

When people see a waste, it is usually because the person so marked will not be fulfilling for them what THEY want from you. But they will recieve and more than they ever realize. Better you follow your inner calling, that for which you were made than trying to live what other people want you to live - a good recipe for disaster.

God bless you. You will be in my prayers! If I may do anything else for you let me know.

Anonymous said...

Father; wonderful post. Having come back to the Church in '06' after 30 years in the wilderness, I have been impressed with the joy and reverence of the younger priests in the Diocese of Kalamazoo. As I understand,vocations are thriving in this orthodox diocese. What a blessing you all are. DK

Fr. V said...

Thanks - good to hear from you! What brought you back?