>> Wednesday, April 2, 2008
My first encounter with discernment actually isn't as dramatic as I thought it would be. Contrary to common belief, my first desire actually did not come from a "Retreat High" as many would call it or in the meeting of an inspiring priest, but rather in a little wager with my Lord before a difficult math Test.
So the story goes that it was the end of lunch and I totally was not prepared for the upcoming Math test (probably due to another late night of playing starcraft...oh starcraft, the bane of my 8th grade social life). So I was joking with my friend James Go saying "If I get a 100% on this math test, I will become a priest!" To my surprise... I actually passed, but not with a 100%. However, for some reason, the thought of becoming a priest never seemed to leave my mind.
Probably the memory that I keep running back to comes from a homily by Fr. Kinane. He was telling us about his call to the priesthood, which came in the form of a friend suggesting that he go to the seminary. When Fr. Kinane refused, his friend persisted saying "Why not?" And that question, sisters and brothers is what constantly enters my mind when I consider a life dedicated to the priesthood. The world says "Why?" but God asks "Why Not?". Several years later, I have yet to come up with a response to the same "Why not?"
As my faith grew over the years, the desire to become a priest became stronger and stronger. Just like how a person who loves animals wants to become a vet, as I began to truly know my faith and love God the idea of becoming a priest made sense. And these desires came with a lot of, as Sean and I would say, "Cute Signs."
In the past 4 years, I can't tell you how many instances I've had when I said, "My gosh, maybe this is a sign from God." They range from alter serving for the Bishop at Fr. Aldo's Ordination Mass (which I think is supposed to be done by seminarians) to having teachers randomly comment other teachings saying, "That boy is going to become a priest one day." One time in my junior year, a rumor (well not really rumor in the sense that it was false) actually spread through the campus about me. The whole day, people kept asking me "Are you going to become a priest?" I remember just smiling it off and saying stuff like "Who told you that?" and "Maybe, who knows?". I remember numerous conversations with people in my youth group, church and school about the priesthood. I can't, for the life of me, remember the details of such conversations but all I can say is that I've tossed around the idea of becoming a priest many times in the past 5 years. To put it simply, the priesthood simply inspires me. Of course there are a whole lot of concerns that come with such a life (most of which I will address in further posts) but overall becoming a priest doesn't really scare me like most teens my age.
"Well what about the whole not getting married thing? Or the fact that you're pretty much devoting your life to prayer and service? Can you handle celibacy? Don't you want to be successful? Have you dated yet? What about all the scandals going on in the Church? Why not go to college first, get the college experience? Are you sure about the whole celibacy thing? The priesthood is not natural! Did I mention the celibacy?"
All questions and concerns that I will address in the next 27 days, but for now, I leave you with the summary of a conversation I've had with Sean about becoming a priest (geez Sean, I mentioned you like 5 times in this post!)
It's difficult to picture myself in boot camp, preparing myself to serve in my nation's army. I have utter and complete respect and admiration for anyone who is willing to give up their life to serve in the army, navy or marines. But for some reason I just can't bring myself to even consider that possibility (Though when I turn 18 and sign up for the draft, that possibility may actually be possible!).
That is how I feel about the priesthood. Just like how there are people out there who are willing and ready to serve their country in that way, I too have come to realize that I might actually be called to serve God through the priesthood. Does that mean I'll definitely become a priest in 10 years? Honestly, only God knows.
There are a whole lot of stories, details, and thoughts I still have to express. For example, today the idea of going to Berkeley actually excited me. But for tonight I'll save my thoughts for tomorrow. Oh! and also be on the look out for this Friday's post because I'll be meeting up with Fr. Brian, the vocational director for our dioceses. I have a feeling that it will be a long post. Until then, Peace and love sisters and brothers!