Trust in Him

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Endangered Priests and Religious

You are all probably familiar with this sad situation in our country. Yes, priests and religious are "endangered." In my diocese, only ONE priest was ordained last year. Priests are spread thin all over the country. Convents and bishops are petitioning other countries to send more religious and priests. Rather than being the missionary country, we are becoming the mission country.

Why? Is God sending us into an abyss of desolation and withholding vocations to purify His suffering Church? I hardly think so. It is not likely that God wants less servants and wishes His flocks to scatter. So what other reason could there be for our critical situation?

Priests, bishops, and other religious are trying to improve the situation through prayers and active ministry. They are enforcing religious vocations to help the Church in its utter need. So, what do you think we need to do to improve our situation? I see some simple solutions:

1. Did it occur to anyone that we are destroying hundreds of priests in the womb?

2. If each of you were to tell me what you learned about religious vocations, even what you know about them, I doubt your explanation would include these definitions:

This is the definition of Nun that I got as a kid:
personal servant of the Most High, intimacy with the Son of God, holy ecstacy, visions, holiness, heroism...
deep love, chosen spouse, romantic suffering, humility, tenderness, beauty, supreme joy, infinite security in God's arms....

This is the definition of Priest I got as a kid:
Jesus on earth, the person through which a miracle was worked each Mass, the mouth through which God speaks to His children, the hands who distribute the fruits and mercies of God, a missionary, a soldier, a hero, one who shares Christ's suffering, one who is espoused to Christ in His Church, one who bears God's strength, a knight of Christ who loves his Lord to his last breath...

Do you see a pattern? To me these were princesses and superheroes. These definitions appeal to all hearts. The life is hard, but that just makes it better. Now lets look at the definitions I received from my Catholic school:

Definition of Nun
One who lives a communal life of poverty and prayer. (or worse: "a woman who shuts herself away from the world." "A woman who escapes the world")

Definition or Priest
A man consecrated by the Church to conduct Masses and hear confessions for the faithful.


4. Tell me, once you hear about the religious life and the priesthood... how do you get more information about it and how to discern a vocation like that? I didn't find a convent or see a nun until four or five years after I decided to be one! How many parishes are active in promoting vocations? Discernment is hard, how do kids find out how to go about it and how they will "know" their vocation? If one wasn't determined to know more, wouldn't it be easy to let a vocation slip away in such circumstances?

Anyways, my point is that we need priests and nuns, but even more importantly we need an understanding of what a vocation really is because, trust me, there ARE vocations out there... hundreds (thousands!) of them. People need to understand the role of the priest and what the Consecration really is. People need to understand what the vocation to be a nun is, and they need to be taught by people echoing what is in the hearts of those who have a religious vocation. Not only do vocations have to be sown, but they have to be grown to maturity. Priests and bishops and other religious really need to help people find & pursue their vocations. Finally, all Catholics need to be made aware of these things and through their own little opportunities bear witness to the essence of a religious vocation.

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