A desire for marriage and family is written on the human heart. We all have an innate desire to be known by another to the very depth of our being, and to give ourselves completely to another, and through that bond, to be fruitful and to see the fruit of that love. This desire is fulfilled in the sacrament of matrimony. This innate desire was reaffirmed in my own heart this Christmas. As I visited my siblings and witnessed anew the love that they have for their spouses and children, the sacrificial way that they cared for one another, I was prompted by the Lord to reflect on my own vocation. Am I giving myself away like my brother is to his wife and his children, like my sisters to their families?
And this is all natural. Of course, I am attracted to natural fatherhood by the example of the families in my life, because I am a human being! But I have discerned a call from the Lord to celibacy “for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven.” (Mt. 19:12) I have been asked, for reasons that I will never completely comprehend, to live a life for others that is not the norm, but which is vitally necessary because it is a living witness that this world is not all there is, that we are building a kingdom that will never end and we must live ultimately for the Kingdom of God.
The thinking, “I want to get married and be a father, therefore I am not called to be a priest,” is wrong-headed. Of course every young man wants to get married and have a family, but Jesus doesn’t say, “let those who for some reason can handle the thought of not getting married become my priest,” he says “He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.”
I would never recommend a young man to the seminary who I did not think would be a fantastic husband and father. Priesthood is a sacrifice, a choice, that demands full acceptance of the call of Christ and the ability to make that choice over another good. Jesus asks us to live out celibacy, but it does not mean that we are somehow disinterested cyborgs who don’t have a normal human experience. So, if you feel attracted to marriage and family, praise the Lord, but please, simply ask God what he wants for you. If you find yourself attracted to the actions of the priest at Mass, in your parish, or in your school, don’t brush it off. He may be calling you, and it will be a sacrifice, but ask any husband or wife, so is marriage. God will give us the grace to take on any challenge, all we need to do is ask him what he wants and to respond to his promptings with courage.
Friday, Jan. 31 – Feb. 2 – Notre Dame Seminary Visit, New Orleans, Louisiana. The Vocations Department is sponsoring this annual event for young men in “pre-discernment.” You can’t make an informed decision about priesthood without seeing what seminary is like! Meet seminarians, participate in beautiful liturgy and other exciting community events.
Friday, Feb. 7-9 – Nashville Dominican Sisters, Jesu Caritas Retreat. This is semi-annual retreat hosted by a rapidly growing religious community in the Southeast. Please contact Father Nick at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to register!
Contact the Office of Vocations if interested in attending any of these events.