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Q & A with Father Anthony



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Does the lack of desire to celebrate the mass...necessarily mean that I am not called to be a priest?

Seth asks:

Dear Fr Anthony,

I feel called to teach philosophy or theology and to defend the Church against heresy. I have wanted to become a priest in the past, but now I am not so sure because I have no desire to perform specifically priestly tasks, like offering the sacrifice of the Mass, hearing confessions, etc. Since I do not have any desire to do these things, does this necessarily mean that I am not called to the priesthood?

Dear Seth,

A vocation is usually manifested in an attraction to some aspect of the priestly life or ministry. The initial attraction may not be to the essentials of the priesthood, and much will depend on your age and your spiritual journey up to the point of first feeling the attraction.

The initial attraction of course has to be deepened, for even if there is a strong desire to say Mass or hear confessions, these are things that a priest does, and only a priest can do, but they are not the essence of the priesthood.

An important part of the maturing of a vocation that takes place in the seminary is the progress from this first attraction towards something that a priest does to a desire and decision to BE a priest, to identify with Christ, Priest and Victim, in your mind and heart, and to be willing to embrace the Cross of Christ in your own life, by doing his will always, to the best of your ability. This is aided by prayer, instruction and spiritual direction, but it is essentially a grace. The priest’s identification with Christ the Priest takes place sacramentally at his ordination, which makes it possible for him to do what only a priest can.

You should ask God to give you the light, the grace to allow you to discern whether your desire to serve the Church as a teacher might not be an invitation to consider more deeply what serving the Church means, and which are the deepest needs of the human soul, deeper even than the thirst for knowledge. Be willing to look at it again, and to consider if your present thoughts might not just be a phase or a fad pulling you away from what is deepest. I do not know what the answer is in your case, but we always have to consider when our thinking changes that it might be simply the fruit of circumstance and our natural fickleness, rather than a sign from God. Your spiritual director is the one best suited to help you interpret what you are going through. Remember, people need teachers, for sure, but especially they need priests, and priests for their part are always teachers, sometimes to the crowds as they preach, and sometimes one-on-one in confession and spiritual direction.

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