Before I entered the seminary, I was a Broadcast Journalism major at a public university. It was the only thing I ever wanted to be when I was growing up. I remember flipping through my old 3rd grade journal during my senior year of high school and reading my old dreams and aspirations. For the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up”, I wrote “an announcer”. While my interest in sports never really developed, I was fascinated by current events and politics. By the time I became a freshman in college, I had no problem declaring my major.
The part of being on the news that most attracted me was not covering campaigns and politicians. It was the fact that I could be a good Christian example to a large group of people. While I never expected to share my own political or spiritual views on the air (I still believe one aspect of good news is not allowing the audience to know your personal opinion), I wanted to be that guy where people would say to their friends and family, “That anchor on the 5 pm news, did you know he’s a daily communicant?”
While my career path as changed quite a bit from when I was a freshman, the idea of being a beacon of light in a dark world is still one of the most attractive pieces of the priesthood. And being on our diocesan seminarian poster, it’s something I’ve already been able to experience.
The life of anybody that associates himself with the Church is under a microscope. While this is probably an extreme example, look how the media tagged this news story even though he was barely a seminarian for five months. Or this former FOCUS missionary who, although never a seminarian, was associated close enough with the Church to make headlines. Many states even have laws that give harsher punishments to church workers. Brothers and sisters, this is the world we are called to serve in.
Even in my own life as a seminarian, people expect me to live up to a moral standard higher than the rest of my peers. People are surprised to see me in bars, spending time with my friends who happen to be girls, and expect me to have all the answers to their spiritual questions. It is hard, but I wouldn’t rather do anything else.
By virtue of our Christian faith, we are all called to be beacons of light in the world. My prayer every day since my first year of seminary has been, “Jesus, please help me to be a window to your love.” No matter what Jesus is calling us to, this should be our prayer. But if you are truly called to the seminary, be prepared to live heroically. If you have a troubled past, that’s alright. God can look past it. Keep your eyes looking forward. Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.
Are you up to the challenge? Are you able to live in the world, but not of the world? Does the culture’s attitude toward priests energize you? Do you want to be the man that makes even one heart turn and say, “I guess priests can be pretty cool”? Pray about that and talk to your spiritual director about it.
Be brave. Be bold.