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Thursday, April 27, 2006

I couldn't sleep last night...

After my evening prayers, I spent a couple hours tossing and turning last night, trying to get comfortable. I was really comfortable, but I couldn't sleep. For some reason, I was thinking about my vocation. What am I to do?

Priesthood? It's very tempting when thinking about all the woes that can hit a family. Nowadays a child can sue a parent or otherwise take them to court and break up the family. Early death of one of the spouses can leave the other one up the proverbial creek. Then comes the question: what in the world would my kid be like? I'd be in deep whale poop if they ended up like me...

Marriage? It's very tempting when thinking about the woes of the priesthood. Dealing with bad bishops, dealing with being forced to say the Novus Ordo and never the Tridentine, dealing with fellow priests who are driving people away from the church, dealing with diocesan politics, dealing with reading between the lines of the bishop's letters trying to catch errors before the liberals do, etc., etc., etc. It's enough to make my head spin. If only priests were as simple and innocent as they are in story books, like Father Brown...

What about being a priest is enticing? The authority, the power of blessing, the sacramental power, the consecrated hands -- all of these things are indeed benefits. I would be able to bring more people to Christ than I ever could as a layman. Something about the Roman collar, the cassock, and the biretta strike instant respect into the hearts of many. People are more inclined to listen to a priest. However, in modern times, when spiritual fervor and clinging to the traditions of the Church is punished like a crime, I can't say that I really want to be a priest. If I'm to be a priest, I want to have the ability to say any form of the Eastern or Western Rite: Tridentine, Anglican-use, and Novus Ordo.

One picture in my head which has been a recurring thought ever since it was put there is a picture of a small core of priests walking down the streets of a large city, like New York City. They would look into everything, and scatter blessings to everything and everyone. It would be simply amazing if we could incorporate both Eastern and Western Rite priests into this group, dressed in their traditional garb. We would carry our breviaries and stop inside any Catholic Church at all for the recitation (or chanting of) the hours. This, to me, is what a priest should do in some of his spare time. Connecting with the world in an open manner is necessary to let the world know that the Church is not dying, like everyone believes, but is alive and growing.

Would this kind of thing bring about any converts, or any interest at all in the Church? I really don't know.

In Rome, when the clergy walks from one place to another, people flock to them. I'm sure that this is also the case in many other nations. In America, there are very few priests who actually walk around in public in their cassocks. I wonder if the majority do not wear their cassock because of the simple fact that it draws too much attention. Is this why they invented clericals, and even why some priests wear sweats or khakies and a polo? I do know that there is often no sign of office, no marks to show that they are a priest. If you talk to them, you may never know if they are a priest. Such is not the case in the image in my head. Everyone would know that these men are priests, and that they are Catholic.

Now, what about marriage is enticing? The ability to assist in bringing children up in the Faith, and the idea of supporting and protecting a family are both just very cool ideas to me. Whenever I see A.J. or Anya, and I help them with something, even something simple, seeing the look of joy in their eyes when they see that this thing is indeed solvable is enough to melt down any ice barriers I may have towards kids. I can understand why parents are willing to put up with the terrible twos and threes not just once or twice, but in rare cases, nineteen or twenty times. Those families are indeed blessed by the Lord. As much as it goes against the grain of what the modern world believes, the more kids you have, the easier some things in life become, assuming that you raised them correctly. If you didn't, you'll have a band of rebels on your hands. But if you mix the right amount of love and the right amount of discipline, if you let kids be kids but all the while be there for them to guide them along the way and be a bastion of virtue and a model for adult life, they should be all right to face the world.

Of course, this is all spoken as an outsider. I'm not good at judging what is good for kids, nor am I good at judging what is good for winning souls over to Christ in the Roman collar. I know that I'm very idealistic, but I do hope that I'm somehow close...
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