November 2, 2018

Vocations Supplement

Seminarians set an inspiring example during a difficult time in the Church

By Fr. Eric Augenstein

I love being a priest. I cannot imagine my life in any other way. And I truly believe that God has both called me to this vocation, and gives me the grace and strength to follow that call.

But it’s not always easy. Some days feel more like Good Friday than Holy Thursday. Some days are more marked with the silence of Holy Saturday than the joy of Easter Sunday.

As priests—as Christians—we are configured to the totality of the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ, and it is only through that Paschal Mystery that this life—our lives—have meaning. It is good to remember that, especially in these days.

As I have visited with our seminarians this fall, the conversation has often turned to the challenges faced by the Church as we confront the reality of sexual abuse of minors by clergy, priests and bishops who have broken their promises and shattered the trust that was placed in them, and what could be perceived as an uncertain future for the Church and the priesthood in this country.

In the midst of many questions and not many answers, 23 young men have committed themselves to actively discerning the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis as seminarians. Just as many young men and women from our archdiocese are in formation for religious life. It is not an easy time to be a priest or a seminarian. It is not an easy time to be Catholic.

Our seminarians inspire me. They feel and understand the hurt and anger that permeates the Church and the priesthood in these days. At the same time, they feel and understand in the depths of their hearts a call to be a part of the solution to a moral crisis in the Church.

They hear God calling them to step into a hurting world as instruments of God’s grace and mercy. They long to show people the face of Jesus Christ. They are striving to grow in holiness and virtue. They are good, faithful men, and our Church will be blessed by those who will serve us as priests.

In the Liturgy of the Hours a few weeks ago, we read the Old Testament story of Esther, a Jewish woman who became queen at a time when an order had been issued to kill the entire Jewish people in the kingdom of Persia. Esther is asked to go to the king to intercede for the lives of her people. When she hesitates, her uncle tells her, “Who knows—perhaps it was for a time like this that you became queen?” (Est 3:14)

Perhaps it was for a time like this that we have been called to be disciples of Jesus Christ. Perhaps it was for a time like this that God has called some of us to be priests and deacons and members of religious communities. Perhaps it was for a time like this that God has called forth a new generation of saints—to rebuild the Church, to restore a culture of life and hope and love, to heal and lift up a broken world.

If indeed it was for a time like this that God has called us, how can we refuse to answer God’s call?
 

(Father Eric Augenstein is vocations director for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. He can be e-mailed at eaugenstein@archindy.org.)

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