After a hectic day yesterday here I am sitting down to write!
At this mornings mass I sensed strongly to pray for vocations to the priesthood!
At times it’s true that I’ve said harsh things about priests but yet it’s worth remembering that without priests there is no mass, no eucharist, no confession and so never before are holy priests needed!
There seems to be a terrible crisis of vocations in the west. In countries such as India and Africa, the priesthood is still very respected and thus attracts vocations but in the west the opposite is true!
Today is the feast of Saint Paul Miki who was martyred. In the church there are 2 types of martyrdom
– Red martyrdom which means those that were physically killed and
-White martyrdom for those who were martyred in their hearts.
So for example, Jesus was red martyred while Mary was white martyred.
Other red martyrs include many of the saints who were hung or crucified, shot or beheaded. St Peter, St Paul, St Stephan, St Maximiliem Kolbe.
Other white martyrs include St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, Padre Pio who died naturally after a lifetime of hugh internal suffering.
Some indeed were both! Poor Jesus suffered both. Maximiliem Kolbe suffered both!
Anyway, going back to my prayer for vocations it became clear to me that saying ‘yes’ to becoming a priest in the west is saying ‘yes’ to a white martyrdom.
When I lived in France some priests were afraid to take a train because sometimes groups of youths shouted ‘paedophile’ at them.
Growing up in Ireland vocations were never spoken of and anyone who did decide to become a priest was deemed a social reject that joined the seminary because no woman would ever look at him! Either that or he was gay.
Either way there was zero respect for priests and I can only imagine the bullying a young person might have got if they told their friends that they were considering priesthood.
As television came in, prayer went out and we got our new catechism from the tv!
To suggest that one believed in purity and waiting for marriage to have sex would have been unheard of and even to go to mass after one left home would have been very strange!
I know nobody from my class in college that went to church and I was the same!
And so in a modern world with technology and freedom there was no respect for God and no room for old-fashioned morality.
Only when I left Ireland and went to France did I meet people my own age who went to mass and to my surprise they weren’t weirdos! Many were young, fun and cool and smashed the stereotype I had from Ireland.
It got me thinking! How had things gone so bad in Ireland? How had the island of Saints and Scholars turned into a pagan land?
It made me sad, very sad because pre conversion I was no better. I too mocked and laughed at priests and thought religion was stupid and unnecessary. I had no love for Jesus and was well and truly a child of the world.
And so now as I pray for vocations I feel sad because I know that there are many vocations out there that will never come to be due to all these social fears and blockages.
Often I meet ladies praying for priests and vocations. Many of them say to me that they would hate if their son became a priest! Not because they hate priests but because they would be afraid of their child having a terrible life.
And who can blame them. To become a priest one must be prepared for the sufferings and mockery from the modern world, it is not an easy life and anyone that says the opposite is lying!
(Saint John Vianney Ars, France. Patron Saint of parish priests)
That said, when God calls He gives grace and while the priesthood may not be an easy life, it may indeed be a very fulfilling life and thus one should not be afraid!
So if you are out there, if you are a mother or a father, please may you too pray for priests and be open to the possibility of God calling one of your little boys to the beautiful vocation of serving others as a priest.
And if you are a priest and happen to read this, well done for having had the courage to say yes to Jesus in this modern world where so many hate you!
Our Lady, St Joseph and all you priests in heaven, pray for us!