To have Mass, we need to foster priestly vocations

| Deacon Stephan Najarian | October 11, 2017 | 0 Comments

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Jesus used many parables to describe the kingdom of heaven. It’s like a mustard seed, a treasure buried in a field, a pearl of great price, and, as we hear this Sunday, like a wedding feast. The Book of Revelation describes heaven as the eternal wedding feast of the Lamb: Jesus the bridegroom, celebrating the union with his bride, the Church, in one huge banquet for all eternity.

In the Mass, we have a foretaste of that eternal union through sacramental union with Christ. But in order to have the Mass, we need to have priests. And we’re all aware that over the last 40 years, there’s been a dramatic drop in the number of priestly vocations, even though here and elsewhere there are signs of hope. Let’s look at just three possible causes for the decline.

First, priests come from families, and the family in western culture is in trouble. Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. And so, asking our young men to make stable, life-long commitments is a problem when they haven’t learned the meaning of this at home.

A second cause for the shortage is that we have been seduced by the consumerism of our culture. When kids get used to having lots of stuff with little effort on their part and having many of their wants — not just their needs — satisfied, it’s harder to consider a priestly lifestyle of simplicity, self-denial and the freedom of being able to pack up and go where the need is.

A third cause is the confusion in teaching the faith that has been so widespread in schools, sermons and even some seminaries. Young people have a great spirit of adventure, but are not willing to commit their lives to a question mark and to ambiguity, but rather to truths on which it’s worthwhile to base one’s life.

What about some solutions, recognizing that none are quick or easy, or will produce results overnight?

The first is prayer. It’s easy to criticize priests for the defects and faults they have, as they, too, struggle with original sin. But it is far more fruitful to pray for them, for a greater cooperation with their grace of ordination and deeper union with Christ, and also to honor them as the icon of Christ among us.

Next, we need to give to our young men the example of our love for the Church and, especially, our love for Jesus present in the Eucharist, which we would not have without the priesthood. We need to share this love, talk about it, live it and then invite young men to consider a joy-filled life of service to the Church as priests. God will always generously provide for his Church, but all of us clearly have our part to play.

Deacon Najarian was ordained for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in 2003 and has served at St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony since then. He also teaches pastoral theology, the sacrament of marriage and biomedical ethics at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity in St. Paul.


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Category: Sunday Scriptures