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Sunday, March 24, 2013

Discerning the Priesthood. What is your Vocation?

Our family has a “first generation” cradle Catholic in the family on my uncle’s side. He is my uncle’s grandson and my uncle journeyed into the Catholic Church in 90’s.  I’m sure family history could back-up some family origins as being Catholic ……..  it would be many, many generations ago. Most likely before the Reformation or before our family ancestors came from Ireland and Germany to the United States. This cousin is a cousin on my father’s side of the family and his grandfather was my father’s younger brother. Family stories going back to my great-grandparents, who were mostly Methodist, spoke of a prejudice toward Catholics and an understanding that you did not date or marry a Catholic.  This cousin, a first generation cradle Catholic (born in the faith), is a junior in high school and is considering the Priesthood. WOW! This cousin is an honor student, good looking, has a beautiful girlfriend, excels in sports and could be anything he wanted to be in this world. This cousin is also very active in his Parish “Youth Group” and is a Lector for youth Mass and Regular Mass. He was invited recently, to speak at a Men’s Retreat on the Eucharist and was so well received that a Women’s group wanted him to speak on the Eucharist. Now every group wants a little of him to speak on the Eucharist. This led me to go for a visit to hear what he had to say about the Eucharist. I was amazed at his maturity and wisdom this young person has in the understanding of the Eucharist and this precious Sacrament. My time was limited in our visit and this young cousin asked me a question just as I was walking out the door to leave. It was a question that sparked this writing to him. Why share this on Blog? In hopes if you read this, you will keep him (my cousin) in your prayers as he discerns his vocation in this life.  What are God’s plans for him? To have a vocation in Marriage or the Priesthood? Also, putting this writing on my Blog in hopes that others who read this might see how my journey of faith has grown and continues to grow in the understanding of the Priesthood. It is such a small morsel of knowledge… But, it excites me to see a glimpse of what God orchestrated when it comes to the Priesthood.  The following is what I wrote my cousin, concerning a question he asked me;

Dear Cousin,

Enjoyed my short visit with you and was so inspired in seeing your Catholic faith growing and your desire to share with others. You are being a “great” witness to many who are seeking and trying to find God and Faith in this ol’ world.

Just want to share with you some thoughts that I did not have the time to express because of time.

You asked me what I thought of Joel Olsteen and I want to share with you what I have observed in many of these mega churches that lead many astray to the understanding of who “God” really is. Joel is a great communicator and knows how to keep one’s attention. He entertains many folks with his eloquent ways with words… his talks “A hope” to achieve anything through God you want… you can have it all, if you have faith. It is a great touchy, feely message and it does encourage many to not give up in the fires and trials of life. Is his message a “full” or “complete” teaching when it comes to the word of God and the life of a Christian? I am not going to be the judge or juror… only God knows. I just know that seeking God all my life in many, many denominations including churches that taught the “prosperity gospel”(name it and claim it gospel), God is our sugar daddy, that at the end of the yellow brick road it was dead for many, including us.

Now that we are Catholic, the fullness of Christianity in our lives cannot be explained with words. The teachings of the Church Fathers, the Saints and their lives truly show me what a Christian is and how they persevered all the way to eternal life. Did they have a life with no troubles? Many were martyred in the Early Church and up to this day many are still being martyred throughout the world for the faith. Where does this Gospel of “believe and have faith” fit into the lives of so many suffering in this world for the Gospel and have faith in the midst of their sufferings and death due to hunger and famine?

Have you ever read the history of the Church? Good and Bad? Did you know that in the beginning priests were married? Then corruption entered in with greed and building power and money for themselves and their families with the money of the poor. It is interesting to read the history and how the Church stumbled and got up again and again and again. How the Church learned from mistakes and is still learning from mistakes. For a man of God… to serve His people and live in this world can be very hard. Can a man of God love money and truly serve God’s people? That is something to ponder on. For all these Mega Churches and their leaders to be multi- billionaires…living in mansions… are they really living the gospel message? Why do they keep so much money for themselves when so many are poor… in their midst? Just think how much they could do… if they lived like a Catholic Priest. Needs are met… lived comfortably and gave to help feed and educate the poor. 

From what I have learned and observed since I have been around Catholic Priests… they truly give their whole life to God and the Church… just like Jesus. To become a Priest, for the Catholic Church, you will not have a life like Joel Olsteen… I’ve also surrendered myself to not being my own Pope. To find understanding to scripture and the things of God, I now search to see what the Church teachings are. I might not agree at times… but so far as I take it to prayer and seek wisdom from above I see… That Mother Church has grown in wisdom from her old age. Mother Church has also told me to be aware of the “prosperity gospel” that is being preached by many… including, Joel Olsteen and Joyce Myers. The Church does not judge them and neither do I… I just know that their message is not preached with the totality of scriptures and the Traditions in which the Catholic Church has held onto for 2,000 years. If, you become a Catholic Priest, you will have to be totally sold out to the Catholic Truth of Christianity. Many false truths have invaded Christianity… including new age and this prosperity gospel. Many of these false truths have invaded the Catholic Church and its people and many times those in authority have joined this bandwagon.

As an ex Protestant… I’ve been there and done that. I’ve seen the changes and growth over the years in the Protestant Churches (those who teach the prosperity gospel) that lead many to these false teachings…including Catholics. Are they harmful? That’s a hard question…. Because I have seen many lives be changed for the good…. In those circles, I’ve also seen many be deeply hurt and lose their faith… including me. I’ve witnessed parents who lose a child to cancer and blame themselves because they do not think their faith was strong enough to “Believe.” In time they stop believing and growing………

Cousin, you are a smart person and God has gifted you with many talents. You can be anything you want to be in this life. You are young and the possibilities are endless. If you want to find a career in which you make money with your hard work… go for it! God can use you in your profession and the vocation of marriage if that is His call for you.

If He is calling you to the Priesthood… you will find your peace and happiness in His call. Not many are called to this “High” of calling… it will require a total surrender to SELF… and you will be obedient to your superiors… so that the “deposit of truth” in which Jesus handed down to the Apostles, and the Apostles handed it down to the next generation… then the next… all the way to our time… this line has never been broken. To be obedient to your superiors is trusting the protection in which they protect the teachings (Jesus) of the Church.

The Protestant faith is only 500 years old and it started with one man, who was a Catholic Priest; Martin Luther who saw abuse in the church… and addressed it. In doing so he caused division… and this division continues to this day. Churches are splintering in this direction and that direction. Men and women interpreting the things of God… in light of themselves and what they think the Holy Spirit is teaching them. How can the Holy Spirit be so divided in its truth? That’s why God left us a teaching body to help us… the Magisterium. Have they done it perfect….using imperfect men? NO! But for 2,000 years “the deposit of faith” has been protected by the Holy Spirit and has not changed… God using imperfect men, to lead His people to eternal life. Scriptures tells us the gates of hell will not prevail against His CHURCH!

To be a Protestant Pastor you will be successful in today’s world if you create the right music, have a great speaking voice, great staff and tickle their ears with HOPE… even entertain them with your abilities to keep them from getting bored. If you do not do all these things, folks stop coming.

For Catholic Priest… it does not matter how good his homily is… if the music is good during worship… because a true Catholic that understands his or her faith is not there to be entertained. They are at church to receive the gift from above that gives the pilgrim so much grace and strength in this broken world. The Eucharist is our hope… not a man who gives a good sermon. The Eucharist shows us how much God loves us and gives us the vision of His eternal plan, of no more suffering. Without the Priest we have no Eucharist. Yes, many leave the Catholic Church because they just don’t get it… they leave to be entertained by many who use the things of this world to tickle their ears.

You cannot compare a Preacher to a Priest….

The following is something I just read and it really spoke volumes to me about many areas of the Priesthood I never thought about, the book Rekindle Eucharistic Amazement Healing and Holiness through the Mass and Holy Hour, Author Kathleen Beckman.

“St John Vianney is named the patron of diocesan priests and what a marvelous example he provides for every priest! On pilgrimage in 1992, I visited the towns of Ars, France. We toured the Saint’s parish and living quarters. His humble bedroom is preserved so pilgrims can venerate the holy ground. One can see the burn marks left from Satan’s attacks against the saint. It is easy to imagine spiritual battles that occurred in his room with the visible signs that confirm the devil’s assaults. Why did a humble priest in a remote village like Ars, France draw such intense retaliation from demons? St John Vianney’s devotion to the Mass and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is exemplary and known throughout the Church.

St Augustine exclaimed, “Marvelous dignity of priest! In their hands, as in the womb of the blessed Virgin Mary, the Son of God becomes incarnate.” St Paul said, “They are ministers of Christ and dispensers of the mysteries of God (1Cor. 4:1). Commenting on these words, the Cure of Ars said, “Without the priest the death and passion of our Lord would be no use; the priest has the key of the heavenly treasures; he is God’s steward and the administrator of His goods.” Let us ask the Holy Spirit to give us knowledge of these truths. It will inspire us with a religious veneration for the character of the priest, and a lively gratitude towards our Lord who has invested him with it. What is the priest? A man who holds the place of God, a man clothed with all the power of God! Go, our Lord, said to the priest, “As my Father has sent me, I also send you.” Behold the power of the priest! The tongue of the priest makes God from a morsel of bread! It is more than creating the world. How great is the priest! He will only rightly understand himself in heaven….. To understand it on earth would make one die, not of fear, but of love. The priest is everything, after God! Leave a parish for twenty years without a priest, and the beast worshipped there…. will be If I were to go away, you would say, “What is there to do in that Church? There is no Mass. Our Lord is no longer there, we may just as well pray at home.” When men want to destroy religion they begin by attacking the priest, because where the priest is no more, there is no more sacrifice; there is no more religion. The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus. When we see the priest, think of our Lord Jesus Christ” (St John Vianney, Eucharistic Meditations).

Dear Priest, in your singular dignity as ministers of God’s mysteries, you remind the laity of our own dignity, too. We need you to be a sign of contradictions in the world. We need your good, courageous example, and your light to shine brightly into our hearts and lives. Father, by pleasing God first, you will bless the people.”

God Bless you Cousin and praying for you and whatever your vocation in life will be… only God knows… seek His wisdom for your life and that is where you will find your happiness.

These are sites that I found among many, many others that might give you more understanding of the subject of;  “Prosperity Gospel”.. The Catholic Church tells us to beware….and I trust them over others opinions.  Love and hugs, Cousin Jewels


My cousin responded back to my answer to his question and I will conclude with what I responded back to him with another question he had;

 Would love to speak to you “more” about all we’ve learned. If you understood how committed we were… Jim and I.. to the Protestant faith and it’s understandings of scripture you will find out how deep we had to dig into the teachings and history of the Catholic Church to make sense of it ALL. Especially Jim being so educated and an engineer, he had to make sense of it all…. “Cross every t and dot every i.”  In the end he received enough grace from above to the understandings, that some things of God…are a mystery and He makes them a mystery to build up our faith. Just like air….we can’t see it, can’t smell it, can’t touch it…. But without air we have no life. At first I was upset Jim did not follow Jeanine and I into the Catholic Faith…. I felt like a lone wolf. But, he supported us, went to Mass every time we did…. In time, I began to thank my Lord for his hardened heart…because of his road blocks and questions, we both studied the Catholic Faith like theologians and historians (together) and journeyed “more” deeper than any RCIA class could take us. You would not believe all the books we have read together about Catholicism. You are more than welcomed to borrow any of them if you want to…if you can find the time to read them. We both “now” hope our journey will help bridge the gap of so many misunderstandings and wrong perceived concepts that Protestants have about the Church and also help Ex Catholics come home. Many Cradle Catholics today are in a rut and have no clue how awesome their faith is….So SAD.  Also, I do not know if you ever read my book I wrote? I know your Meme has a copy. Many of my early understandings of being Catholic are in those pages. I need to re-write it, because I need to add so much more to it, that I have learned since I wrote it. I had it self-published and hope one day when I get it just like I want it…. I will try to publish it. It’s called “Finding the One in His Time.” In the last part of the book I share about 3 Catholic Seminarians that visited our Parish one summer to help with Vacation Bible School. I had them over at our house for dinner and lunch several times and really got to know them and their stories about how God had lead them to become…or discern to be a Catholic Priest. What I shared in my book is a question I asked them; “Do all who enter the Seminary become a Priest?” This is what I wrote; “They informed me the percentage was very low. The good news is while they study to become Priest, they are pursuing God’s will in their lives and preparing for whatever their vocation may be in life; married, or a life dedicated to the Priesthood. They went on to say those who choose marriage for a vocation, after the experience of seminary, leave the seminary really understanding God’s purpose for their life and a good insight in understanding the meaning of sacrificial love that serves its place “in time” when they do marry. They were a precious young bunch, and it was refreshing to see young men really pursuing God with all of their hearts. I wish more young people had the opportunity to figure it out. It is sad one has to escape the world to get answers. I wish our modern world could be still for a day and give our young people an experience of silence away from cell phones, IPods, television and the materialism that keeps them from hearing God’s voice.” I wrote that almost 4 years ago…. And still keep up with those precious men. We were invited last spring to the “Ordination” to the Priesthood of one of those Seminarians.. Jim and I both cried through the whole service. We both had been praying for him, since we met him that summer, to complete, discern, and understand his God ordained call or vocation in this life… we felt like his parents. We even got to go to his first Mass at his home church. To be there was amazing to see the fruits of the Apostolic succession continue on… to see the miracle in which….the first time this young priest through the power of the Holy Spirit made present our Eucharist. We took part in a miracle of God and we witnessed the miracle of God in this young Priests hands, the wine and bread became His Body and Blood. For us and all his friends and family, to be a part of witnessing his first Eucharistic miracle at the Altar was awesome. He was not the one who performed the miracle; it was the Holy Spirit using a man who surrendered his life to this call…. a calling from God. We cried again. One of the other Seminarians is studying in Rome for 2 years and can’t wait to hear his story when he gets back. Wonder what his experience was when Pope Francis was installed? He got to witness all of that amazing history being made.

The book you asked me if I read it; “To Save A Thousand Souls”….. You will like it.. The author Fr. Branner was on EWTN… “Bookmark” with Dough Keck. The following link is the interview with Fr. Branner and a great discussion how the book came to being. Fr. Branner is affiliated at Mount Saint Mary’s in Maryland. When we lived in PA we use to pass by that place, many times, with our trips to DC. Wish we would have stopped, it is beautiful and we always admired the place… just did not know what it was back then.

God Bless, Cousin Jewels

P.S. Also, listen to all the other YouTube’s to the right of this link… Many discussions and areas in which you can use to discern this complex subject of the “calling” of the Priesthood.

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