Monday, May 18, 2009

Fishers Of Men

"Who will take the cross?" Father steps down from his chair just before the final blessing at Mass and hands over a small wooden cross to this week's willing volunteer. Attached to the cross is a prayer for an increase in vocations to the Priesthood.

The United States Council of Catholic Bishops published the names & photos of the Ordination Class of 2009 (found here), along with a few statistical factoids, such as:

The average age of ordinands for the Class of 2009 is 36.

On average, the responding ordinands report that they were about 17 when they first considered a vocation to the priesthood.

Relatively few ordinands say that TV, radio, billboards, or other vocational advertising were instrumental in their discernment.

(Source: The Class of 2009: Survey of Ordinands to the Priesthood)

It's a tough decision. I know a few young men who are right now discerning a call to the priesthood. They have been for several years now. They all have the same concerns: What if they get through everything and take their vows, and they realize that they don't want to be a priest anymore? What if they meet a woman and fall in love? What if they WANT to meet a woman and fall in love? What about being a father? What about their families? And these are just a few of the many issues facing young men in their discernment process.

One need only turn on the television for about ten minutes to see that contemporary American society is not inclined toward Christ. It's not just the TV lineup, either; the workplace, the voting booth, the internet, right down to where we shop, all put out there more and more attractive choices that would compromise my Church and my faith. When the world no longer believes, becoming a catalyst for faith can be seen as almost futile.

No wonder it can take a decade or more to discern a vocation.

This is why I applaud advertising for vocations. Whether I'm buying laundry detergent or wardrobe staples, I rarely admit that advertising of any kind significantly affects my decisions. I suspect that the overwhelming majority of us would say the same. I know better, though, because I know that good advertising doesn't work directly. It gets under the surface and attempts to shape the underlying desires of our hearts. So despite the above statistic regarding vocational advertising, I believe it's a practice that needs to continue, if not stepped up a bit.

The following short film in two parts is an excellent piece promoting vocations to the priesthood. As you watch them, pray for anyone who might be discerning a vocation. And while you're at it, ask them to watch this film.

“As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
Mark 1:16-17


Diana said...

I just wanted to add that I used this video when I was teaching my vocations class and the kids really, really responded to it. It provoked excellent questions. Thanks for sharing, Gina!

Emmaus Conversations said...

Wonderful insight Thank you
All our daily readings in John this past month tells of the battle between God and doing his mission or being of and in the world.

De Colores

Gina said...

Hi Diana, Thanks for the feedback! Half way through the first video I found myself praying that one (or both) of my nephews consider the Priesthood. Chris has two more years until 17.......

Gina said...

Hi Terry! Thanks for reading...what you comment here is exactly what inspired me to post on vocations. Monday morning I attended the daily mass, and my favorite Deacon did a little preaching on it, and really inspired me to think about the obstacles we face as blessed we are, though, to have so many wonderful tools within our great Church to help us to overcome the snares of the world! De Colores!

ignatz1960 said...

gina, where did you ever find such dynamic videos??!!! this year is my priest's (fr.tom) 40th anniversary and our retired priest's (fr. gabe) 50th anniversary of their hope and prayer is that they both truly feel the power and love these videos show that they evoke every moment of their lives.....without the love and commitment that fr. tom has blessed my life by sharing with me, i don't think i would still be back where i belong, in the Catholic church and loving and living every moment of it because of dedicated, peaceful, and inspiring people like him entering my life.......thank you fr. tom for not giving up on me....and for teaching me all about GOD'S "unconditional" love for even me.........

Gina said...

Hi Janet! YES, these videos are fabulous. They're from a production company called Grassroots Films. They produced the video called "Jesus In The Streets Of New York". I posted it last week, and was just checking out some of the other videos they had, and this one just struck me.

Your gratitude for your parish priest is exactly what this world needs. I don't think we give our priests enough credit for living their vocation. To some of us, if they're not doing things the way we want them, we push them off to the side as being useless to us. We forget that they are living a vocation---I'm actually surprised at how few people really understand what a vocation is.

Fr. Ed (our favorite priest from our diocese...the man that even a moving car can't stop from living the gospel!!!) said the other day that a vocation to the priesthood is a full life. What more could anyone ask for but for that?!

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