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How To Become a Priest I

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“How to become a priest” seems to be allowed at Yahoo as a search phrase.  This is at least what a member of theIglesya Ni Manalo blogged about.  And since his blog is entitled that way, Yahoo presents his article whenever the question is typed.  Given the searching habits of Filipinos, I wonder, how many typed the question mentioned above and how many got an advice from a member of the Iglesya Ni Manalo?

The question is wrongly formulated.  It assumes that being a priest is something similar to becoming a policeman or a doctor, a career that one chooses.  The priesthood is not a career, it is a vocation.  The key idea is that one is CALLED to be a priest, and the call must be from God who wills someone to become a concrete sign for His people of the shepherd after His own heart, Jesus Christ.  A priest is not a person who has undergone training in a seminary and who has passed; a priest is one whom God looks upon to share in the work of sanctifying, teaching and governing the Church.  A priest is called and chosen; the priest is the one who has made that call and election his own.

Becoming a priest is not as simple as;
(1) talking to a parish priest and getting advice, and
(2) enrolling in a seminary
(3) completing the course requirements
Those are just some (not all) of the steps one makes.  Before one even decides to become a priest, one must first be sure of one thing:  “Am I able to put this desire into the test?”   The desire to be a priest is, like any other desire, ambivalent.  It has to be tested and proven.  Anyone who comes and claims to be called by God must be able to prove the claim with fruits — concrete signs of a vocation.  It is for this reason that seminary training can take as long as 10 or 12 years.

When I was in-charge of admitting candidates to the seminary, I was aware that the real motives for someone entering a seminary may not always be the one verbally expressed.  One applicant might say he wants to enter the seminary because he loves the Virgin Mary or because he wants to be of service to all men.  And yet, what he really wants is to escape from the discipline at home or perhaps even to get quality college education for free.  Even so-called “professionals” can ask for admission after having “left everything behind”, but turn out to have merely tried to escape the harsh life of the unemployed.  No one can immediately see what is inside an applicant’s heart, and so they are tried.

The priesthood is a vocation, not a career.  There are some who got themselves ordained but who found out that the motives they entered the seminary in the first place was not pure.  But by that time, they have turned their lives into a wreck and have in many ways shamed the priesthood.  Many of these leave the priesthood after ordination, while others remain and try to salvage what is left of their broken lives and vocation.  According to a study made in the 1980s by the Archdiocese of Manila, there are three motives that moved such men to enter the seminary and apply for the priesthood:
1.  their mother or father wanted it
2.  their family status — or the way their family is looked upon by others — is improved
3.  cheap quality education
Those who enter the seminary having one, any or all of these reasons will probably not last nor become a real priest.

Update, May 13, 2011
More links to topics on vocation, the priesthood and religious life, on this page

Originally posted 2005-06-23 21:26:26. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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