Thursday, February 25, 2010

What to do (and not do) about vocations

Some Dominican wisdom from one of my favorite blogging priests, Father Powell at Domine, da mihi hanc aquam.

There is no vocations crisis. God is calling more than enough men to the priesthood to cover the needs of the Church. The real crisis is twofold:
  • A crisis of commitment (men who are reluctant to say yes to their call)
  • A crisis of encouragement (Basically, mothers and fathers who are not supporting sons who express an interest in saying YES to God’s call. Also, bishops and their vocation directors, and their discernment and vetting processes. Does your bishop really believe that an ordained priesthood is necessary for the flourishing of the Church? Is there a culture of priestly community in the diocese? Are the priests happy and encouraging of vocations? Bottomline: no young man is remotely interested in joining an order or a diocese controlled by bitter, angry ideologues who loudly and proudly celebrate the coming demise of the priesthood. Who wants to jump on a failing project as it sinks under the weight of its stewards’ neglect?)
So, what should we do?
  • First, give God constant thanks for the vocations He has called.
  • Second, pray that God will encourage those whom He has called. Pray that they will say YES.
  • Third, personally, one-on-one invite a young man to think about priesthood.
  • Fourth, spend some time studying what the Church teaches about priesthood. Ignore functional models of priesthood (i.e., the priesthood is a job or a role) and ignore attempts to turn the Catholic priest into a Protestant minister (i.e., a minister of the Word in the pulpit but not a priest at the altar of sacrifice!). Also avoid all attempts to understand that priesthood is rooted in baptism only - ordained priest ministers out of his baptism AND out of his ordination.
Those called to priesthood will not be encouraged to say YES to their call until it is crystal clear to them that we need them. Communion Services and other forms of “celebrations in the absence of a priest” only serve to reinforce the idea that a priest for Mass is a luxury.

Image Credit: St. Dominic by Cosme Tura

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