I KNOW OF young Catholic men who, upon expressing their inclination to the priesthood, are told by the secular world (including Catholics), "You don't know what you're getting into. Go out and see what the world offers first; test the waters."
I must say that such advice does seem prudent and practical in some aspects. But is such advice right? Should young men who are discerning listen to such advice?
Jesuit Father William Doyle wrote of such advice on a Vocational Website: "They urge that getting to know the world will develop their faculties and enable them to understand their own mind better; that such a process will broaden their views and help them to judge things at their proper value; finally, that a vocation which cannot stand such a trial, the buffeting of dangerous temptations, and the seductive allurements of worldly pleasures, to which it has been unnecessarily exposed, is no vocation and had far better be abandoned."
St. Vincent de Paul once said that the world is not the place to "try a vocation". For example, a farmer does not plant a seed in lousy soil to see if it grows. He grows it in fertile soil. Likewise, Catholics who are discerning cannot continue to test their vocation by staying in the world. The best place to test this vocation is the seminary.
Father Lessius writes, "Whosoever wishes to preserve and see grow in his heart, the seed which the Divine Sower has cast there, ought to fl y from the world and reach a safe refuge as soon as possible." If one finds there is no vocation to the priesthood, than he is free to leave. After all, it doesn't mean that one who enters the seminary is definitely going to enter the priesthood.
Now, I want to express what I feel about the statement in the first paragraph that both the secular world and some Catholics make to discerning young men, "You don't know what you're getting into. Go out and see what the world offers first; test the waters."
People who make such statements do not value the priesthood in it's fullness.
They are ignorant of the "Alter Christus" nature of the priesthood and have not grasped fully the mission of the Catholic Church. Take this analogy for example: What teacher ever told a student who professed an interest in being a teacher to stay away from college, and take a hiatus for a couple of years to see if he or she really really wants to give up a life of riley to be a respectable teacher? Their advice would have been something like this: "Take good classes in university, volunteer as a student-teacher at different levels to see what you're best suited to teach, maybe get involved in community youth programmes at the local community centre."
God is still calling many young men to serve him. People are intercepting the calls.
Paul Domingo Molina