Encouraging Vocations Requires Generous Love
By Father Kevin M. Cusick
The martyrdom of Father Hamel in France last month makes clear the continuing need of encouraging priestly vocations. Not only is the aging priesthood retiring at an increasing rate, we now have the growth and spread of radical Islam that demands the shedding of Christian blood to sate the worship of its false “god”. Without the Eucharist there is no Jesus or Church. Without priests there is no Jesus.
We have been blessed in our small parish with the task of fostering the vocation of a young man who believes himself called to the sacred priesthood of Jesus Christ. The presence of this man in our community is a sign of the Lord and His love present and active in our portion of the Body of Christ.
Yet, some who have been infected with a warped and worldly ideology have been heard to sometimes called it “strange” that a young man would spend free time helping in a parish and assisting the priest with the offering of holy Mass, and other activities in the life of the Church, as his time and other responsibilities make it possible.
After we have expended considerable time, talent and treasure in the contemporary Church to proclaim the importance of priestly vocations it’s somewhat shocking to hear of our own people of faith attacking the reality of a vocation when such a blessing does appear in our midst.
The traditional Latin Mass has attracted a group of single young adults to my parish community in a way not seen in surrounding parishes. It is among the members of this age group that a priestly vocation is most likely to surface. In our case this has happened. Ayoung man who loves the traditional Mass has made known to us his belief that he is called to the priesthood and we are blessed to be able to support him. The love of Jesus Christ in every parish by necessity requires the generous acceptance and encouragement of priestly vocations.
We’ve come a long way in the brave new “Church of today” when such inversion, using the word “strange” to describe a young man spending time with a priest, typically by necessity an older man, passes unquestioned from person to person. What is truly strange is to fail to see that it would be highly inconsistent with a man’s stated intention to desire to be a priest and yet to not desire to assist with priestly things. The more generously he were to do so, the better.
Strange, in fact, would be for a young man in the seminary, or preparing to enter formation, to go out with friends and otherwise give in to various worldly distractions in preference to, or in conflict with, generously making time in his life for priestly things. For a man who is not yet ordained, those “priestly” things involve, by necessity, spending time with a priest and sharing in his work. It’s a sad commentary on the disoriented spiritual condition of many Catholics that such a fact needs to be pointed out.
It also may be a sign of jealousy or bad will that otherwise believing or practicing Catholics would attack something that is an undeniable sign of pastoral effectiveness. Bishops spare no effort to encourage every priest in the ecclesial mission of supporting vocations, making clear that vocations are a blessing for every parish. It could also be that “misery loves company”. Some of our people are unfortunately very unhappy for whatever reasons and cannot manage to see the world except through the lens of their discontent.
For whatever reasons that Catholics or others spread calumny or detraction we must pray for them and try to open a dialog with them. Perhaps the knowledge of a few facts can assist these others to set aside their vain and poisoned imaginings. The frequency of martyrdom tells us very well what the world thinks of Catholics. Catholics should not take on the thinking of the world.
And in all Christian charity, isn’t it possible for us to even grant the possibility that some things are exactly what they appear to be? That a young man who wants to be a priest is generously giving of himself to share in priestly work is a grace for which to be thankful.
The priesthood is the continuation of Christ’s own life and ministry in and through His Church. Just as without Christ there is no divine life for the world, so without priests there is no contact with Christ in His Church. Fostering and encouraging vocations to the priesthood is absolutely necessary for salvation.
Each of us is responsible for remaining alert to the possibility of a call to the vocation in any of our men. Also, even outside the Church some hear that call as today some men continue to enter the priesthood even through a conversion from the Protestant sects.
Vocations are central to the life and mission of the Church. Dedication to prayer and the conferral of grace through the sacraments are tasks entrusted to His Church by Christ Himself. Offering the traditional Latin Mass with regularity in your parish is the primary way for you and your priest to foster the many vocations to the priesthood just waiting to be recognized.
Pray for priests.
Thank you for reading and praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever.