About Harvester's Wanted:

A Catholic priest's reflections along the path of Faith.

When this life is complete, I pray they say I lived for the Greater Glory of God +AMDG+

PRAYER REQUESTS through link on right side-bar.

Friday, May 9, 2008

On The Holy Father's Visit:

I feel more able to write about my experience now that I have had several weeks to process my pilgrimage to join the Pope for Mass at Yankee Stadium along with the Archdiocesan seminarians and those in discernment, not to mention the thousands of others lucky enough to have received a Papal ticket. The week leading up to the trip was when I really began to feel the pull to more publicly talk about my discernment and it was in that week of spiritual preparation that I began working on these pages. I feel as if in a small way I can play a part in the renewal that the Holy Father has called for in our faith. I believe that my calling in itself is a part of this reawakening described by Pope Benedict, one link in God's plan to revitalize the Church after years of scandal as well as emptying pews, schools, and rectories. I feel this energy as I meet with my discernment group and talk with people just like me who are discerning leaving their present occupation, their current life track, and answer God's calling for them to do something more.

I already had these thoughts of my own participation in this great renewal even before I made it into the stadium. It was at that moment, however, when the Holy Father was about to enter the stadium and one could feel the excitement in the air as the crowd was preparing to meet Pope Benedict that it was undeniable: the clay is now present and by the power of God the potters wheel will turn, all that is required is for us to approach the Lord's table and start to work. It might not turn out perfect the first time but God does not expect perfection out of us, we are simply supposed to try, and by our labours others will feel the love of God. It amazes me the amount of discussion going on in our culture from people who have processed the Holy Father's visit and are doing what they can to spur on dialogue about our future. Especially the future of the Church's youth. I myself have been lucky to have already taken part in some of these discussions and hope for continuing engagement between myself and others developing ideas for the future of our Church. It seems to me that being a younger individual myself I am in a perfect position to develop my own opinions now on how best to engage the Catholic Youth so that I'll be well prepared as I go through life and develop my calling to the priesthood. The Pope himself is greatly concerned with the state of young people in our Church. He revealed this by mentioning young people in his homily at Yankee Stadium:

My dear young friends, like the seven men, "filled with the Spirit and wisdom" whom the Apostles charged with care for the young Church, may you step forward and take up the responsibility which your faith in Christ sets before you! May you find the courage to proclaim Christ, "the same, yesterday, and today and for ever" and the unchanging truths which have their foundation in him (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 10; Heb 13:8).

Young men and women of America, I urge you: open your hearts to the Lord's call to follow him in the priesthood and the religious life. Can there be any greater mark of love than this: to follow in the footsteps of Christ, who was willing to lay down his life for his friends (cf. Jn 15:13)?

Along with this energized feeling that I have taken away from the experience of the Papal Mass there was another source of hope that I found at Yankee stadium. This source originated from a group of people that were a world apart from the bishops standing so close to the Holy Father; however, from the noise they made when he entered the stadium and the constant accolades of love for the Pope, one felt as if the Holy Father must have been right there amongst them. I spent the first part of the Mass wondering to myself who these people were who had such obvious joy to be in the presence of the servant of the servants of Christ. Then at one point Pope Benedict rose and explained why he had come, to celebrate the bicentennial mass of the dioceses created from the diocese of Baltimore, (which had been raised at the same time to the status of a archdioceses). One by one he named the four dioceses being celebrated while those present cheered: New York...Philedelphia...Louisville...Boston, and at that point the section in question erupted in pure exhilaration, the city that had for almost a decade had their faith beset with doubt due to the sex abuse scandal. The same city which ousted their Bishop for mishandling the crisis. The city that some say 'used to be' a Catholic stronghold. These were the people who seemed the most joyous, out of a crowd full of joy, to be before the Pope. I could not help but think that the light at the end of the tunnel had appeared, that after all we will be ok, that does not mean that there's not a lot of work ahead of us but at least there's a greater since of hope.

Friday, April 18, 2008

On My Calling

One of the questions that I get asked the most, and rightfully so, is: 'When did you start thinking about entering seminary and becoming a priest?' The simple answer is that I can not remember a time when the thought of becoming a priest was not in the back of my mind. That's not to say however that I have not convinced myself several times that the priesthood was not for me. That feeling never left me however, and I finally committed to exploring the process a little closer and that's when I contacted the vocations office. In fact I have learned that the persistent feelings of interest in the priesthood is a good sign that God is indeed calling that person to enter into religious life and help lead his people. I also, from an early age, was drawn to the priesthood because I found that theirs was an interesting role they played in society, as well as a lifestyle that brought a lot of joy not only to the priest himself but also all those close to him. I must admit that I also found them to be very 'neat' in that as a child we would be sitting in our little chapel for school mass and Father would ring the bell and suddenly appear which to me only added to the aura that surrounded a priest in my mind.

During my continuing discernment I have heard of a priest whom when asked about the moment he decided to become a priest he answered with 'this morning when I woke up.' To me this reviles that a person's discernment does not end when they are accepted, or when they enters seminary, nor does it end when they are ordained for it is an ever growing understanding of what God is calling one to do with their life. That really has helped me in my discernment because I know now that while I need to be pretty sure about my decision to attend seminary and become a priest before I enter seminary the process of discernment is on going and I am able to discern while in seminary that this indeed is not the path God is calling me on. However, having talked it over with so many people I truly believe that God wants me to serve him and his people as a priest.

I am glad that I wrote that email to the vocations department because I feel as if I am now fulfilling God plan for me and am finally on a path towards helping to create a greater good. I know that if I had chosen not to look into the discernment process further I would have regretted it for the rest of my life. Now that I am really involved in my own discernment I feel happier than I have felt in a long while. For me it has been a long path, in which I was discerning the entire time without realizing where I was headed until I was really ready to commit.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Holy Father Speaks on Harvesters

From the Pope's talk to the U.S. Bishops on 4/16/08:

"Let me conclude by stating the obvious. The fields are still ripe for harvesting (cf. Jn 4:35); God continues to give the growth (cf. 1 Cor 3:6). We can and must insist -- even in our own time and for our own time -- as the late Pope John Paul II did, that God is preparing a new springtime for Christianity (cf. Redemptoris Missio, 86). What is needed above all, at this time in the history of the Church in America, is a renewal of that apostolic zeal which inspires her shepherds actively to seek out the lost, to bind up those who have been wounded, and to bring strength to those who are languishing (cf. Ez 34:16). And this, as I have said, calls for new ways of thinking based on a sound diagnosis of today's challenges and a commitment to unity in the service of the Church's mission to the present generation. Thank you."

"In the Gospel, Jesus tells us to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send workers. Only the Lord can give the workers, and we always have to pray that He gives us the workers. He even admits that the workers are few in comparison with the abundance of the harvest (cf. Mt 9:37-38)."


Also a quote from a similar talk to Ireland's Bishops given in 2006:

"At one time, Ireland was blessed with such an abundance of priestly and religious vocations that much of the world was able to benefit from their apostolic labours. In recent years, though, the number of vocations has fallen sharply. How urgent it is, then, to heed the Lord’s words: 'The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few. Pray, therefore, the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest' (Mt 9:37-38)."