Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Vocations Follow-Up

At the risk of (though surely not the intention of) sounding like I'm blowing my own horn, I would like to bring attention to something that was said in an interview with The Remnant by Father Berg, Superior General of the FSSP. Apparently the good Father read my earlier post on vocations, and worked it into his own interview ;)

Here is an excerpt from the interview (my emphases):

Q: During a time in the Church in Western Europe and the U.S., when there are entire dioceses that frequently have no priestly ordinations each year, there have been 153 men request applications to the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter in the United States January through March 2007. Why do you think so many young men are attracted to vocations to the traditional priestly societies?

A: If one looks at the diocese and institutes where they are attracting a strong number of vocations, the young men are receiving a very strong priestly identity—one that really underlines the supernatural side of the priesthood. This is not true only of the Fraternity, but also of places like St. Gregory’s in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Sometimes I think we end up short-selling the youth and thinking what they really want, what is going to attract them, is this type of life or that—as if the priesthood is nothing more than being a social worker or a counselor. That is just not going to attract vocations. Men can go ahead and do that in other areas [without the sacrifices of the priesthood].

But in the end, it is the strong priestly identity that attracts them. Yes, they will end up doing a lot of natural things that are good—and they will end up needing to have a lot of natural virtues—but the priest’s job is about the supernatural life with the sacraments and everything else.

We’re fortunate enough to have a number of things [in the FSSP] that emphasize those elements, such as the priestly identify at the altar which is so stressed by the rite, and Thomistic theology which sees the priest’s fundamental act as offering sacrifice. It clearly underlines what the work of the priest is—what his essential work is. And that finally is the element which is most attractive about the priesthood: being able to deal with the things that are holy all the time; with the things that are most essential.

Having been a priest now for 10 years, I can’t imagine being a man and getting up every day and working 10 hours in a secular job on what is not most important. And I know there are men who have to do that according to their duty in state. But the priesthood is always dealing with the absolute essentials—with salvation.

That’s one thing that I think is fortunate about the way we form priests. It is centered around preaching and the sacraments: being dispensers of the mysteries of God as St. Paul says, is what is essential. Fortunately, the rite we use really emphasizes that role of the priest within the sanctuary, which a lot of men are looking for as well.

I would say that I couldn't have said it better myself, but in truth, I couldn't have said it nearly as good myself. I highly recommend that you read the whole interview. It is impressive in the extreme.

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