Over the last couple of years, the number of seminarians throughout the United States has been growing tremendously. Those men who begin the discernment process are entering into a conversation with God that most young men never open themselves up to because they are afraid of going against the grain of society. There is a lot of noise out in the world that tells these young men that they can do whatever they want, whether it pertains to relationships, drugs, alcohol, etc. When the young men enter seminary, this noise does not stop; in fact, the noise seems to get louder.
The biggest challenge seminarians face today is the act of giving their entire self over to the will of God. This is difficult for any Christian to do because it requires us to leave everything we have known in order to follow Christ. However, this does not come without reward. In The Meaning of Vocation, John Paul II writes: “Do not be afraid of the radicalness of his demands, because Jesus, who loved us first, is prepared to give himself to you, as well as asking of you. If he asks much from you, it is because he knows you can give much.”
Being a seminarian (in actuality, even being a Christian) is counter-cultural! Often times people wonder what drives a young man to enter the seminary. The common questions include: “Don’t you want to get married and have children? “Don’t you want to have a successful career and make a lot of money?” All of these questions make the discernment process more real because these are questions the seminarian MUST face. While in the seminary, a seminarian must practice a life of celibacy, prayer, and relative simplicity. In this modern, materialistic world, these are not always easy.
This generation of seminarians are facing problems that previous generations never had to deal with. Television and movie screens depict a life of sexual freedom and pornography has taken over the internet, making it more difficult for young men to live truly chaste, celibate lives. Young men are torn between following their desires and impulses or following the plan God has in store for them. In order to do this, we need to set aside time to develop a deeply personal relationship with God. However, a relationship with God grows in silence. With modern society becoming increasingly “connected” as a result of Blackberry devices, iPhones, iPods, MP3 players, WI-FI connectivity, etc., listening to God in the silence is even more of a challenge.
Every young man who is discerning God’s will for their lives has to deal with each of these challenges. The minute we believe we have conquered our struggles, a disaster strikes and we fall miserably. However, there is hope! We can all take an example from the lives of the saints. Even the saints had difficulties overcoming the challenges that faced their time. When they thought they had persevered in their struggles, they fell back into a life of sin. The only difference is that they knew how to pick themselves up. Through the Sacrament of Penance we can return to a life of following God’s will for us. All we have to do is approach God, continually opening ourselves to his healing love.
“Confidently open your most intimate aspirations to the Love of Christ who waits for you in the Eucharist. You will receive the answer to all your worries and you will see with joy that the consistency of your life which he asks of you is the door to fulfill the noblest dreams of your youth.” — John Paul II, The Meaning of Vocation
No matter what God calls us to do with our lives, he awaits for us to pick up our cross and follow him. “Take heart young people! Christ is calling you and the world awaits you! Remember that the Kingdom of God need your generous and complete dedication…Act like those fisherman who, called by Jesus, immediately left everything behind and became fishers of men.” (JPII–The Meaning of Vocation) whispers of the spirit (www.susurrationes.com)
Let's look forward to another fruitful year at the Sacred Heart Seminary!