Yesterday I witnessed the baptism of my newest godson in a parish in our diocese. What joy to stand with my wife and our godson’s parents and respond on his behalf the desire to be baptized and affirm the Creed. I lit his baptismal candle from the Christ Candle situated next to the baptismal font and I thought about the future our Lord has for this precious boy who bears the name of two of our stellar saints.
I know his parents would be thrilled if this little boy would discern a call to the religious life, especially to the priesthood. They will do everything possible to train up him up accordingly. As godparents, we are committed to pray, encourage, and model fidelity to Christ and his Church.
I have one son, eight grandsons, two godsons, and four other boys who have adopted me as “papa”. If any of them discerned a call to the priesthood I would be ecstatic! I don’t say this lightly—it is not an easy vocation to undertake, and all the more so when a priest is committed to follow in the steps of Christ himself, and adhere to the example of some of the amazing priests in our tradition and history—men like St. John Vianney, St. Padre Pio, St. Damien of Molokai, and Father Thomas Byles who died hearing confessions as the Titanic was sinking.
I have been blessed to have wonderful priests in my life to celebrate the Mass, to hear my confession, to confirm me, to convalidate my marriage, to bless my home and to offer spiritual direction. It is evident through their lives that they are committed to Jesus Christ and his Church, and to my growth in sanctification and final salvation. I would be honored to have any of these young boys follow in their steps and minister in the same way to their own generation.
Thank you, Your Excellency for your part in making possible the parish that I am part of and the priests who minister the Liturgy of the Word and Sacrament to us on a weekly, even daily basis.
But, Your Excellency, I do have a request to make of you—something that I hold in the very depths of my heart, that causes me to cry out before God when I am alone before him. You know the burden that these children would take up if they discern a call to the priesthood. And so I ask you for them, and for all the sons of Catholic mothers and fathers, grandfathers and grandmothers, godfathers and godmothers, that you be completely committed by the authority entrusted to you in the sacred office you hold, as successor to the apostles, to be vigilant for the spiritual well being and protection of these sons of the Church.
Leave no stone unturned to protect our sons from predators who would try to derail them in their spiritual devotion to Jesus through attacks on their chastity. Predators have no place in our seminaries, and we hold you and the office of vocations directly responsible to weed out these destructive influences. (Also it would be helpful if you would make a statement to that effect to our diocese!)
Also, our sons love the Church in all of her liturgical and historic glories. Please make sure that these sons of the Church are not viewed with suspicion because they long to learn the beauty of the historical liturgies and practices, or because they are faithful to the doctrine and teachings of the one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.
Your Excellency, I leave you with deep respect and high regard for your holy office and close with the words of St. Jude at end of his epistle:
But you, beloved, remember the words spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, for they told you, “In the last time there will be scoffers who will live according to their own godless desires.” These are the ones who cause divisions; they live on the natural plane, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. On those who waver, have mercy; save others by snatching them out of the fire; on others have mercy with fear, abhorring even the outer garment stained by the flesh.
To the one who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you unblemished and exultant, in the presence of his glory, to the only God, our savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord be glory, majesty, power, and authority from ages past, now, and for ages to come. Amen (1:17–25 NABRE).
You are in my prayers daily.
Respectfully yours in Christ,