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Friday, 3 July 2015

A Rant from STM

Truly, I am tired of hearing lay people lament the lack of vocations. When Catholic women begin to talk on this point, I am beginning to say nothing, but listen and pray silently. However, if I have to make a comment, I simply say, "Where are your children and grandchildren?"

Part of the punishment of the Church in the West will be a serious priest shortage, which I have written about many times on this blog. Some dioceses will shrink, and the laity will not have access to the sacraments.

Part of the problem is the fact that people simply do not respond to the call of God to be a priest or nun. Some parents block vocations for selfish reasons, especially since contraception has created one or two children in a family as a norm.

No longer do even some Catholic parents want their one or two children to become a priest or religious.

Remember, St. John Bosco believed that one out of four boys is called to the priesthood.

Look at the numbers of boys graduating from Catholic high schools this year. As I have noted before here, if one out of four would have gone into the seminary, we would not have a priest shortage.

At the end of 2007, for example, there were 638,239 students in Catholic high schools. Allowing for non-Catholic students, let us say one sixth, that would leave about 535,000, half of which could be boys. So, there could have been 267,500 Catholic high school boys in 2007. If a quarter had gone into the seminary, using Don Bosco's insight, that would mean that 66,750 young men would have entered the seminary in a four year period between 2007-2011, just from the Catholic high schools.

Of course, this did not happen.

St. Alphonsus writes about those who do not follow their true vocations. Perhaps one reason why there are so many unhappy young men and women, not being able to find their true "job" in the world, is that they either said "no" to God, for their own reasons, or by being discouraged by family members, including parents.

St. Alphonsus seems to be ranting here, so I shall quote him on the subject....

  • It is clear that our eternal salvation depends principally on the choice of our state... In regard to choosing a state, if we want to make sure of our eternal salvation, we must follow the divine vocation, where alone God has prepared efficacious helps to save us... This is exactly the order of predestination described by the same Apostle: “He whom he predestined, he also called; and those whom he called, he also justified... and those he also glorified.”... Upon vocation follows justification, and upon justification follows glorification, namely eternal life. He who places himself outside of this chain of salvation will not be saved. With all the efforts and with everything else that one will do, St. Augustine will say to him: “You run well, but outside of the way,” namely outside of the way through which God will have called you to walk, in order to attain to your salvation. The Lord does not accept the sacrifices offered from one’s own inclination: “For Cain and his offering he had no regard.” Rather, he enjoins great punishment on those who want to turn their backs to their calls, to follow the plans of their own inclination: “Woe to the rebellious children,” says the Lord through Isaiah, “who carry out a plan, but not from me; and who make a league, but not by my spirit!” The punishment of the disobedient will begin already during his lifetime, when he will always be restless; for Job says, “Who has resisted him and had peace?” Hence he will be deprived of the abundant and efficacious helps for living well. Therefore the Theologian Habert wrote: “Not without great difficulties will he be able to look out for his salvation.” With great difficulty will he be saved, being forever like a member out of its proper place, so that only with great difficulty will he be able to live well... Therefore he concludes that “although absolutely speaking he could be saved, he will with difficulty enter the way, and lay hold of the means of salvation.”

  • Another block to vocations is that parents are not raising children to have purity of heart. Here is the great saint again on this subject.

    • It is necessary for you to pray diligently to God to make you know his will as to what state he wants you in. But take notice that to have this light, you must pray to him with indifference. He who prays to God to enlighten him in regard to a state of life, but without indifference, and who, instead of conforming to the divine will, would sooner have God conform to his will, is like a pilot that pretends to wish his ship to advance, but in reality does not want it to: he throws his anchor into the sea, and then unfurls his sails. God neither gives light nor speaks his word to such persons. But if you entreat him with indifference and resolution to follow his will, God will make you know clearly what state is better for you. 
    • (On the utility of the spiritual exercises made in solitude)

Sorry, moaners and complainers, look to your own failings and the failings of your local Church. I have said to some priests that high schools which have not produced a vocation in twenty years should be shut down. What about forty years?  Yes, some Catholic high schools have not seen a priestly vocation for forty years. Something is wrong. And, if parishes are to be shut down, close the ones where there have been no vocations for twenty years, now considered a generation. Something is wrong.  Financial viability is not the only criteria for keeping a church open. What about spiritual viability? What about the number of marriages, baptisms, and priestly vocations as a sign of viability?

Where are the Latino vocations? Here are statistics from this year's ordinands. Note that a quarter were not American born. This is a scandal for our American Church.

Two-thirds of responding ordinands (69 percent) report their primary race or ethnicity as Caucasian/European American/white. Compared to the adult Catholic population of the United States, ordinands are more likely to be of Asian or Pacific Islander background (10 percent of responding ordinands), but less likely to be Hispanic/Latino (14 percent of responding ordinands). Compared to diocesan ordinands, religious ordinands are less likely to report their race or ethnicity as Caucasian/European American/white.  One-quarter of the ordinands (25 percent) were born outside the United States, with the largest numbers coming from Colombia, Mexico, the Philippines, Nigeria, Poland, and Vietnam. On average, responding ordinands who were born in another country have lived in the United States for 12 years. Between 20 and 30 percent of ordinands to diocesan priesthood for each of the last ten years were born outside of the United States, as were 25 percent of this year’s diocesan ordinands.  Most ordinands have been Catholic since birth, although 7 percent became Catholic later in life. Eighty-four percent report that both of their parents are Catholic and more than a third (37 percent) have a relative who is a priest or a religious.  Almost all ordinands in the Class of 2015 (96 percent) have at least one sibling. Seven in ten (74 percent) have more than two siblings, while one in five (22 percent) have five or more siblings. Ordinands are most likely to be the oldest in their family (36 percent). USCCB website.

Parents, give the first child to God....a long tradition in the Catholic Church. I also blame priests for not speaking out against mixed religion marriages. Note that the vast majority of priests ordained had Catholic mums and dads. 

I know of many churches in the Midwest where there have not been vocations for forty years or more, and a few which have young men going into the seminaries in a regular fashion-especially in rural areas.. Interesting...and the blocks to vocations are yet more reasons for a house of prayer set aside to pray for priests, bishops, cardinals, and seminarians.