Hi, I would like to take a few minutes to share with you, my inner-conflict and possible vocation to the Sacramental Priesthood of Jesus Christ.
Most priests that I’ve known or heard of have gone into the seminary to study for the priesthood straight out of high school. However, there are some that I know of who lived out in the world; worked, went to school, dated, etc for a few years and then went to the seminary. Those people are known as “late vocations.” I’ve actually had someone tell me (this person is not a priest) that they felt that late vocations make better priests because instead of going straight in after high school, they lived in the world and experienced what it’s like, and therefore can help parishoners better with their real-world conflicts. However, I heard a priest once say that if you feel that you’re being called to the priesthood, to not put it off but to go to the seminary and pursue it immediately.
This might be a shock to some of you out there who have gotten to know me after my short time here on CAF, but often times I will feel like I am being called to the priesthood (I’m sure most young men get that feeling at times in their lives, even those who would later eventually become married and have kids). Now that I am getting ready to graduate from high school, I am starting to really discern what I should do with my life and my interest in the priesthood has been growing.
However, I do have some conflictions. I was raised in an independent parish (but am about to leave it once I graduate and leave home) and for several years have not truly been part of a parish. I’ve never really had the oppurtunity to truly grow as a Catholic in a true parish; joining a youth group, taking religious education classes, having a close relationship with my pastor, truly learning about the essence of the Catholic faith. All I was taught in my independent parish, for the most part, was that Vatican II, the Ordinary Form of the Mass, and the post-concilliar popes were evil and that we (by we I mean radical-Traditionalists) were the “remnant faithful”, we never truly had a since of community, the only time we ever did things together as a parish was that brief time during the week when we had mass and that was the only time we ever truly saw our priest.
I remember going to a local diocesan parish up until I was about 7 or 8 years old. I was baptized at the age of 6 after mass along with my at-the-time newly born sister. Since I was of age, I remember the baptism very well. I wasn’t very religious of fervent of heart, but at the moment when I was baptized, I felt a deep, spiritual cleasning going through my inner-self and I never felt better in my life. It wouldn’t be until several years later when I will have discovered what baptism truly was. Not long after that, we stopped going to mass and religion just kind of disappeared from our home. Growing up, we constantly moved around a lot because my mom was always getting transfered to different jobs in different cities. During that entire time, we moved to Topeka, Kansas for a few years and that was the only place where I encountered religion since my baptism. My neighbors were devout Catholics and invited us to go to Mass with them, I went one Sunday to this Church that was right next to our neighborhood and I felt something magnetizing everytime I went to Mass since that very first time. At that time, I was 10 years old and didn’t know much about that Catholic faith at all, but always felt a mystical experience everytime I walked into the Church.
It got to a point to where I started learning about the Catholic faith by reading books and praying that I might know more. That became the #1 thing on my mind was God. Since I was so close to the Church, I would spend a lot of my free time going up there into the sanctuary, admiring the scenery and praying. I still did kid stuff like hang with my friends, play video games, play football, etc. I started to learn more and more about the faith on my own and I eventually ended up going to Mass every Saturday AND Sunday (sometimes I’d go to all three masses), that was my favorite thing to do. At one point, I got so attracted to religion that at the age of 10, I wanted to become a priest because I was so in love with the mass and the Church that I wanted to be a part of it, until my mother told me that priests could not marry. And also, at that time, I was starting to get interested in girls and met my first crush ever. We used to hang out and we were pretty good friends, I don’t know about her but I started to get some feelings for her, the first feelings I ever had for a girl.
But after my mom told me that priests could not marry and that I was hoping to get married one day and have kids, I was just so disappointed. After that, I just completely let go of the idea of wanting to become a priest, but I was still madly in love with the Church and the Mass and I continued on with that streak. I would use to go to Mass by myself at the age of 10 and my mother would very seldom come with me and my step-dad was a non-Catholic and was deployed to Iraq at the time, so it was just me. One day, she came with me to mass and was talking to me about how evil it was because Mass was said out loud while facing the people instead of being said silently in Latin while facing the back wall, communion being given in the hand, under both species, and by lay people, somewhat contemporary music was used instead of Gregorian chants, etc. I never understood what was so wrong about those things or why these things were an issue for her at the time. But one day, my mom got a new job offer in a different state so we ended up moving and left everything behind and started over, AGAIN.