A note by Fr. Brett Brannen for his parish’s bulletin on April 17, 2016. Fr. Brannen is the author of To Save a Thousand Souls: A Guide for Discerning a Vocation to Diocesan Priesthood
A number of years ago, when I was first ordained a priest, a mother came up to me and shocked me by what she had to say. She said, “Fr. Brannen, I want you to stay away from my son and stop talking to him.” Her son was in 7th grade in our parish school. I had never spoken to him one-on-one, but only when I taught the entire class. I asked the mother why she would say such a thing? She replied, “Because he likes you and he talks about you a lot; and he is talking about becoming a priest himself. And I don’t want him to be a priest.” I replied, “Now let me get this straight. If Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is calling your son to become a priest, you want him to tell Jesus no?” She was silent for a while, and then she said, “Well, I need to think about that.” I said, “Please do, and pray about it also!”
Today is Good Shepherd Sunday (Jn 10); also called World Day of Prayer for Vocations. The purpose of this observance is to publicly fulfill the Lord’s instruction to, ““Pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest” (Mt 9:38; Lk 10:2). It is the day when the entire church joins together to ask God to send us enough priests and religious sisters and brothers to take care of all God’s people. Priests are absolutely essential in the Catholic Faith, because the holy Mass cannot be offered nor the Eucharist confected without them. Pope Benedict wrote: “Nothing can replace the ministry of priests in the heart of the Church.” I think that we Catholics all know that, somewhere in the back of our minds, and we obediently pray the prayer for vocations with everyone before mass, but really lifting up our hearts and begging the Risen Jesus to send us holy priests is probably not something we do every day. Well, today is the day.
In addition, it is a day when we publicly and personally invite our own children to consider whether God may be calling them to become a priest or a religious. Today is the day when parents are encouraged to say to their own children, “I want you to know that, if God is calling you to become a priest, I would be very proud of you.” This is not pressuring our children in an unhealthy way, but only letting them know that the vocation to the priesthood and religious life is a holy and happy way to live your life. I wrote a book called: A Priest in the Family: A Guide for Parents Whose Sons are Considering Priesthood. It was written precisely because so many seminarians and priests today will say that a parent or family member actively tried to talk them out of becoming a priest. If you want a copy, stop by the parish office.
I often say to young people: “Would you like to become a priest?” Usually the answer is: “I don’t think so Father.” Then I say, “But would you become a priest if Jesus asked you to?” And the answer is always the same: “Yes Father, if Jesus asks me to become a priest, I will do it.” Catholic people so often do something because their priest asks them to. Should we not a million times more do something because Jesus asks? On June 1st, I will be a priest for 25 years. I love being a priest and I hope the Lord gives me another 25! What greater way could there be to live one’s life than to spend every moment trying to help others get to Heaven. Let’s all pray today from our hearts that the Lord of the harvest will send laborers into his harvest.
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