Monday, April 30, 2007

The joy of being a priest!

Fourth Sunday of Easter 2007
World Day for Vocations
Mass Readings:
Acts 13:14, 43-52
Revelation 7:9, 14b-17
John 10:27-30

Today we not only continue our celebration of Easter but we also take time to talk about vocations in the Church. Today we call attention to vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life.

To be a servant of God is to be happy! Nothing can bring more peace and satisfaction than to be about God's work. All of us are called to be Jesus' disciples. All of us are a part of Jesus' Great Commission to go forth and proclaim the good news of Salvation. All of us are called.

Some are called to take a different path. For some, service to God means dedicating one's life to full time service, to be married to the Church. Priesthood and religious life are a lifetime marriage to God and his Church. The diaconate is also crucial for it is an office in which married men can serve in an ordained role. Deacons are very, very important to the life of the Church and as a priest I can attest to the great service they give and their help to me.

We often hear the doom and gloom folk who lament the lack of vocations in the Church. Most of these folk will cite reasons why there is a lack of vocations and their reasons almost always reflect their personal agenda. If the Church only did things the way he/she wants them to be done then everything would be right and perfect. Uh, yeah. Right. Sorry. Don't think so.

Vocations in the Church face a number of obstacles. Most parents want their kids to make money, have a family, a big house. I remember my mom going through a whole list of things that she thought I would be giving up in order to be a priest. I remember her great fear that I would be lonely. Let me say that yes, there are days when I am a bit lonely. BUT! After seven years as a priest I have to say that some of the loneliest people I have met have been folk who are married and have families. You can be in a house full of people and still be lonely.

My mom worried that I would be unhappy. Is everyday just a day of sunshine and joy? No. But then again, no one has everyday be perfect. Happiness is a choice. No one or no thing can be the source of one's happiness. Happiness comes from being at peace with who we are and what we do. So yes, I am very happy with my life. I am happy being a priest and I look forward to the years to come.

When did a life of service cease to be a viable option? I have heard on more than one occasion how some families become angry when their children turn to service in the Church instead of what many deem to be a life of prestige and money. Last time I checked, money was a rather fluid resource and can be lost quickly. I even had a young woman ask me for prayer as she was getting ready to enter religious life and her parents were furious because they wanted her to be a doctor. Imagine being angry at your child for wanting to serve God by serving other people as a nun. I was truly upset by this young woman's situation. I pray that she is happy and that her family has come to respect and support her decision. We need more people who are willing to follow God's call instead of society's call.

To serve God is to be happy. To serve God's people is to have joy. I can think of nothing else that could give me the great joy I have. Being a priest means everything to me and I invite any and all who may want to discern if he/she has a vocation to feel free to contact me.

God's Peace to you all!