Hello my friends,
Forgive me if this post is not in the correct location. I have come to ask you what do you believe are good motivations for a priest. We will take wishing to be of service to God and His holy Church as a given. The reasons I ask this is because I do not believe my own motivations are good ones and the last thing I would ever hope to come to fruition would be a half-hearted priest. I feel a great yearning to fight for the Church in issues that it deals with, internally and externally; I wish to keep Catholics from holding positions contrary to Church teaching and falling into apostasy or heresy; I wish for those lost sheep, whether they be Catholic or non-Catholic Christians, to join the Church once again that we may fulfill Christ wish in John 17:21, “May they all be one.” If these are good motivations, please let me know and if not, please outline more appropriate motivations for wishing to join the priesthood.
Do you want to become intimate with Jesus? Do you want to offer the sacrifice of the mass every day for the rest of your life, often dragging yourself out of bed to do so? Do you want to drop everything and visit the sick or the dying? Do you want to work your butt off on Christmas and Easter when everyone else is having family time? Do you want to be an instrument of God’s mercy in the confessional?
This appears to be the Age of the Layman. Some of the most persuasive apologetics, and moral teachings are coming from the Laity, e.g. The people of CA, Scott Hahn and all of his disciple/authors etc. So there is nothing (in this day and age) from preventing a layman from doing all of the good work for the Church that you would like to do. As for the priesthood, you should give yourself more time. Motivations are not what is needed, but rather a call from God. Live your life in the best Christian way possible, and be alert to what God is calling you to do.
If obedience to what you think to be the will of God is not part of your motivation, then you ought to begin asking Him the question. If you persist in not sensing that this is something He wants you to do, then do something else.
Frankly, after many years that were spent working with those who were in formation, you use expressions that would give me great pause.
The first reason to discern priesthood is because one has a sense of being called to priesthood, as a vocation. It is a life…not a work. And not because of anything one hopes to achieve…what one does and to what one is assigned is determined by one’s bishop – or major superior, if one is a Religious/Consecrated. One’s whole life can be spent never doing the sort of work one associated with the vocation in one’s own mind.
I have never thought of myself as “fighting for the Church” – least of all internally. In fact, quite the opposite. As a member of my diocese’s presbyterate, I am part of the College of Presbyters, working collegially with my brother priests, as co-workers with the Bishop of the diocese. We were not in combat with each other but we live and work together, across decades, in consensus. I find presbyterates that are fractured or with pronouned conflicts to be quite sad as well as unhealthy for the priests and, indeed, for the diocese.
Certainly, both in my pastoral assignments and in my academic assignments, I wanted to articulate what the Church actually teaches…but I would never phrase it as restraining “apostasy” or “heresy”.
Working for restoration of Christian unity ended up being an unforeseen part of my priestly life…one that I did not foresee or seek but that certainly enriched my life and priesthood, as really every obedience I received did. But this work was not about trying to “get people” into the Church of Rome. It was working for a restoration of unity among the baptised that had been tragically lost.
Beyond this, I would suggest having a conversation with your diocese’s vocation director.
Most, if not all, the priests I know, became priests because they felt they had to answer God’s call. It was not an option but part of the “living out” their relationship (faith) in God. The grace for answering the call is part of the call to priesthood.
Believe it or not, you would probably have more freedom as a layman than a Priest with the types of activities you are describing. As has been mentioned, a Diocese is a community of Priests working with each other, and generally speaking of similar mind.
That said, I want to encourage you to continue to pray and discern your calling (we all have one). The Church needs men who are strong in their faith and want to raise others to build their faith and the church. There are many ways to strengthen the faithful and spread the Gospel without being ordained.