Mail-Bag: Priest Material

Looks like we’ve already got some correspondence here, excellent:


yall really think that screwups that can’t get a gf (namely me) are priest material? let us be serious, any order that doesn’t have the sense to screen us out isn’t worth joining. guys who had it together in their youth can be priests, pious chads will get the good girls, our vocation is depressed alcoholic bachelor sitting in the back at mass


Thanks for writing, my bro. Sounds like you could use some help- that’s what we’re here to do.


First of all, I have bad news: you are such good priest material that you are already a priest. Ever hear of the Baptismal priesthood? That’s you, man– like all Christians you are called to make of your life a daily offering to God in imitation of Christ. You should probably get on that right away: thank Him for what is good in your life, and offer your least suffering as a sacrifice for your sins and those of others. Keep His commandments and guard your purity, because you belong to Him now. Receive the sacraments of Penance and Communion as often as you can to cleanse your soul and fill it with His presence. You also need to be praying daily; remembering that it’s a spiritual work of mercy to pray for  the living and the dead. I’m afraid you don’t get to get out of the call to seek holiness just because you haven’t been ordained.


As for getting ordained: if you think only people who have been paragons of holiness since childhood can be priests, you need to review the lives of some of the great saints of the Church. Many of them, it turns out, started as colossal failsons: John Vianney was a tremendous disaster in the seminary, such that he repeatedly failed to learn Latin and got punched out by other students for being a dumbass. In fact, he was considered such an ass that after failing an exam he got called up by the seminary rector who called him an ass to his face. He replied, “Monsignor, Samson killed one hundred Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. What do you think God could do with a whole one?”




Vianney was eventually ordained, and by the end of his life he was spending 16-18 hours a day in the confessional because of the thousands of people that were coming to him. What’s the takeaway here? Not having it together right now is no indication you can’t be a priest. The only way to be sure of that is to never get up the nerve to talk to the Vocations Director. And remember that the bishop putting his hands on your head and ordaining you does not magically make you holy (or require you to be particularly holy to work); priests still have to go to confession and struggle with sin just like the rest of us. Pray for them!


[One more thing: speaking of not being particularly holy, if you think all us married dudes arrived at our present situation by being “pious chads” then man I gotta tell you something. Women, it turns out, are not perfect angels waiting in heaven to come down and reward Good Catholic boys for being sufficiently holy. They have their own struggles and imperfections just like we do; a marriage of two saints is an ideal that requires a lifetime of work by both husband and wife. Most marriages are two very imperfect people making the very bold claim that they’re going to stay together no matter how hard it gets- and believe it or not this is such a hard thing to do that you are only going to manage it through the grace of God. We’ll talk about this more in the future, but getting married (like getting ordained) is only a beginning of holiness, not a prize for its achievement. It is an assignment of responsibilities, not a reward.]