“Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
So you're probably wondering why I have a Texas Football image to go along with this Scripture verse. On Sunday evening at Mass we had Seminarian from the diocese of Austin come visit and tell us his story. Jose was actually from Anaheim, California (right around the corner from where I grew up) and his family moved here to central Texas right before he started high school. Like many non-Texans he was not aware the Texans live, eat and breathe football. :) But when he started high school he said he was approached by the football coach...next thing he knew is he was living, eating and breathing football. Jose played varsity his sophomore year, and he aspired to play college ball. It was all he dreamed about. I believe he said it was his junior year he already started receiving scouting letters from many well known universities about scholarships to play ball with them. Then before starting his senior year and doing 2-a-days he injured a nerve in his back and was confined to a bed for several days before he could even get up and move. He said it was during this time that he prayed to God asking for guidance in his life and what to do with his life. He said he was surprised and afraid when he felt God speaking to his heart and encouraging him to become a priest...
Jose said he didn't understand the calling to become a priest. He wanted to play football, he wanted to one day have a family. He said he kept this to himself for several months before he finally confided in a priest. After doing so Jose saw a priest who was on fire about his vocation and inspired him. Jose questioned why he was afraid of this calling and not embracing it - “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” He now embraces it.
I admire Jose.
Taking a vow of celibacy in order to devote your life to Sheppard Christ's flock is not for everyone. To exercise this kind of self-control, to be holy in body and spirit, focus & dedicate on the affairs of our Lord and how to please Him rather than focusing on worldly affairs and pleasing a wife is an admirable vocation in my eyes. Jesus and Paul advocated and practiced the vocation of celibacy. In 1 Corinthians 7 Paul endorses celibacy for those capable of it. In Matthew 19 Jesus teaches this sort of celibacy "for the sake of the kingdom" is a gift. Most are called to the vocation of marriage and some are granted to a call of celibacy. It is true that too often individuals in both vocations fall short of the requirements of their state, but this does not diminish either vocation, nor does it mean that the individuals in question were "not really called" to that vocation. After all, we all fall short and are sinners - even priests.
Here are the Seminarians this year in the diocese of Austin, they are at max capacity. So is the diocese of Dallas. Jose said NY Times once stated the Catholic priesthood is of old men, something medieval and dying off. Jose was happy to report it is quite the opposite. Men of his generation (he's in his early 20's) are responding to the call of priesthood. The servants of His Church will never die out as the Times claim. Thanks be to God!
"Every vocation becomes more agreeable when united with devotion." - Saint Francis de Sales