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Fr. Paul von Habsburg

Father Paul von Habsburg, LC, was born in Munich, Germany, on the 19th of October 1968 as the second of three children. He entered the Legion of Christ at 22 years of age in the German Novitiate and then went to Salamanca, Spain, for his studies in classical humanities. He obtained a Master's degree in philosophy and a Bachelor's in theology at Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum of Rome. Currently he is studying for his Master's degree in dogmatic theology in the same Athenaeum. He also participates in the promotion of apostolic works for the culture in Europe.

Since childhood, my ideal in life was to found a big and very Christian family. In my scale of values, God and my family occupied the top, and I saw every other blessing (work, friends...) only in relation to these two top ideals. Although I always got along well with priests and did not reject outright the possibility that God could call me one day to the priesthood, I somehow did not see it as a realistic option, mainly for two reasons: I thought that the priesthood would be a bit boring...and I got along too well with girls.

When I was fifteen years old, something happened in my family: we all began to live our faith more fervently and profoundly. We started going to mass on weekdays and to pray the rosary together. Each one of us began to make a personal choice for Christ in his or her life. At home, we could talk about God as naturally as we would talk about the results of the last Bayern Munich soccer game; this reassured me greatly and helped me to reinforce my option for God.

During my two-year military service in the German Army, I was confronted with a new reality that deeply impressed me: I was surrounded by very good and healthy guys, many of them even morally healthy; however, God was the great unknown in their lives. They had not received the gift of faith. While talking with them individually, I discovered that the seed of faith was there, inside of them; in some cases covered by dust, in others by sand, or even by rocks and stones, but it was not absent. It just needed some water, light and nutrients. While realizing this, I felt something like a cry to heaven inside of me: How was it possible that these young men had to go such a long way to get here and talk with me in order to make their first experience of God, to feel for the first time the desire to get to know Him? While I knew that with God I had everything, these men had nothing without Him. And I thought about all the young people who, just like these, would never find God if someone did not dedicate his life to preach to them. Strangely enough, with all this I still "didn't get it"; I still did not realize which would be my way. But since that moment, I felt an inner urge to discover what was God's plan for me, so I decided to ask Him every day.

When I reached the age of 21, I had another "little problem": I fell in love with a wonderful young woman, with all the qualities I could dream of. She was someone with whom I could imagine forming a great family with many children, and so live our Christian vocation within marriage. I made the following reflection: if I give her, the girl, the first opportunity, I know I will end up marrying her, without having cleared the question about my vocation; but if I first put myself in front of God, and I find that my call is for marriage, I know that God will keep her for me because he is fair and everything will be fine.

Therefore, at the end of my military service, I decided to give myself a year to find out what God expected from me. My family supported me, but many of my friends were against it. At that time, I met for the first time a Legionary priest. He impressed me because he was not the type of priest I had known until then. He simply was a man of God. Without waiting for an invitation, I traveled to Rome to get to know the Legionary community and immediately felt at home; I felt that these were my type of people, I was comfortable with them and I even thought that like this I could imagine being a priest.

Although I had traveled there only to get to know them a little bit, after three days I felt that God was saying to me: "Paul, do you see the need for priests in the world? Come on!" In private, without talking to anyone, I said yes to God with great joy. I asked him only that if this was not his will, that he should be so good as to let me know. But instead of that, he "opened my eyes" and showed me how all my life had been a process to prepare me for this moment and that this was precisely his plan.

After ten years, I can say with deep gratitude that I never had a reason to doubt this call. On the contrary: day by day, all the moments of joy and peace as well as the harder and more difficult moments (few, I must say), have contributed to reaffirm me more and more in my call. And one reality has always given me anew the strength to carry on: I will happily renounce anything, however beautiful or attractive it may be, if it makes me lose Christ, because there is nothing in this world that is more worthy than the real and personal friendship with him.







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