Since I Made My Decision I Have Encountered a Number of Reactions...
The real secret, Dan, is to focus positively on your call. Begin the shift into a life that is oriented very differently, on God and what he wants.
by Father Anthony Bannon, LC | Source:
Q. Dear Fr Anthony,
Hey Padre, it's me again, "danno,dan and daniel"...I have just finished applying to my Diocese for admittance as a seminarian @ the Pontifical college of Josephenum in Ohio. I thought you might be happy to hear I am going to give it my best shot! Also, since my decision I have encountered a number of responses. Some are of disgust and others are of joy! The ones I am worried about and have the most effect on me are the ones of my friends. My buddies cannot understand the notion of giving up girls and such. The girls want nothing to do with me... As you can imagine this leaves me with out much to do! I was wondering if this is something I should have expected and will it get better with time? It all leaves me feeling alone and I dont know how to deal with it. If you have any advice I would love to hear it...
Thank you and God Bless
A. Dear Dan,
It's great to hear you are going to give it your best shot! You wont be sorry!
Now, remember your best shot doesn't consist simply in going to the seminary, it means putting all you have into it: all your mind, soul, heart and energy (and I think you have a lot of it) into your prayer, into your studies, into overcoming the difficulties that come up on the way (and, please God there will be many!), and being open with your spiritual director. Difficulties are the main means we have to mature, dont ever be afraid of them.
Your first difficulties have arisen in the reaction of your friends. Now is your opportunity to take your first step towards the independence you need to develop and exercise to become a good priest. It is not what your friends think that matters, it is what God thinks. God and God's will are going to be the anchor of your life from now on, and as you will find out, the stability they give is what your friends are going to be looking for in the future, and will move them to go to you for help when they need it. When they are looking for something more stable than the fickle opinion of friends, when they are looking for something deeper they turn to God and to the man they know will lead them to Him, the priest. You will have to have gone through this and learnt for yourself to center your life on him in order to be of use to souls as a priest.
I was thinking you may be kind of lucky the girls don't want anything to do with you right now, at least it removes a possible problem or difficulty while you grow in your understanding of celibacy and strengthen your commitment to it.
Obviously, such a shift in your social life creates a big hole (alone and nothing much to do). Remember, nature abhors a vacuum, so if you dont want all you are leaving to come rushing back in pretty quickly to re-occupy your mind and heart you have to put something else there in its place.
Being a candidate for the seminary, I would recommend that you go to Mass every day. Get there beforehand, prepare in prayer by reading the scriptures, especially the New Testament starting with the Gospels, and stay on a little afterwards to spend some time with Christ. He is the reason you are going to the seminary so you need to talk to him a lot, friend-to-friend. Pray the Rosary each day, and put in some time for spiritual reading (lives of the saints are good, also some good spiritual books). Then on top of that make yourself useful to your pastor (help with the altar boys, take care of some of the practical organization of the parish, help him get things lined up for next year for CCD all those tons of things that need to be done around the parish), or offer yourself to help out at some diocesan programs like camps, etc., during the Summer. If you need to work to get money for the seminary put in as much time as you can. Of course, there are probably things around your house that need doing as well.
The real secret, Dan, is to focus positively on your call. Begin the shift into a life that is oriented very differently, on God and what he wants. Dont be afraid of the difficulties, just keep focused on why you want to serve Christ and put him first its because he loved you enough to die for you and now hes asking you to do the same that others will have life. So, it is a question most importantly of filling your heart, and also of filling your time.
God bless. You can be sure of my double prayers for you.
- Fr Anthony