Monday, April 10, 2006

God or the Girl? Rather: God or the Self

So A&E is going to air this new show God or the Girl. The premise is that the show will follow four young men who want to become Roman Catholic priests.

When I first hear about it, I was a bit wary. The choice to become a priest is something so big that the constant intrusion of cameras would add a very distracting element to the dynamic. My biggest problem is the title: God or the Girl.

This is one facet, agreed a large one, of the decision to become a priest. That a Catholic priest is celibate is not the only, and for many not even the largest factor in the decision.

Let's look at some, only some, of the others:

• It is a 24 hour job.

• With the shortage of priests you will likely have two (maybe more) parishes to take care of at one time.

• Holidays are spent away from your family (however you are with family in a different way).

• People will look to your actions as representative of the faith as a whole.

• No matter how good you are, people will judge you by how bad priests act. Usually 1 bad priest casts derision on 100 good ones.

• You can be moved at anytime to a different place.

• For the media, and those who do not know the faith, the collar on your neck is a bull’s-eye for judgment.

• Last rites. It may not seem like alot at first, but when you watch the members of your flock die for twenty years...I'm sure it can be very difficult.

• Proclaiming strong moral values in a time of moral relativism does not make you popular.

The above list makes it seem like someone would be crazy to be a priest. And the list above, with the exception of celibacy, goes for all priests not just Roman Catholic. But those who often choose a difficult path, because it is what Gad wants, are often called crazy.

Each one of those is a reason based on self. Not necessarily selfish, the way we usually use the word. There is not problem with a person if they can not accept the issues above, God does not call everyone to them. He calls each of us to our own set of choices. To make this decision you must have knowledge of yourself and the strength to reject what the world sees as most important.

In the choice to be a priest the person must ask some difficult questions:

• Has God chosen me for this?

• Has He given me the gifts to deal with these problems?

• Is this the work that God wants of me above other states of life?

• Is my faith strong enough to see me through this?

• What can I do to be stronger and is that enough?

But those questions are the same a married person asks themselves. The same ones we should ask ourselves for a new job. The same we should ask before any decision in life. The choice, all choice, is not about God or the girl. But it is a question of God or the self.

Not that the self is always bad...God gave us this self. We must work to hear His voice as He explains our special gifts.

But the self we usually choose is not the self God gave us. We normally choose the self that the world wants us to have. That is when it is selfish. When we focus more on the self and it's desires in the world than on the duties that God has set before us as the actions that our self is best gifted to perform.

Faith in ourselves is, at it's best and most unselfish, faith ( in ourselves) as creations of God.

The choice for the priesthood and for all states of life is to join ourselves into God's will for us rather than to the world's will for us. It is to accept and use the amazing unique gifts He gives to each of us and at the same time accept the Cross as it is given as well.

He gives us gifts to be like Christ and bear our crosses. He gives us gifts to be like Simon and help others bear theirs.

His voice helps us choose. It helps us see. His hand rests on our cross, taking the weight from us when it is difficult to bear.

1 comment:

erudit said...

Good reminders! A reminder also to pray daily for our priests and bishops.

A married priesthood solves some of these problems, but creates others, as we see in Paul's admonitions about elders managing their households.

I think we could add to this list of considerations: A greater experience of spiritual battle and temptation.