We had just completed a lesson on the Mass when my son ran up to the altar. Standing proud, with his hands raised, I shouted to hold on a minute, and ran to grab my camera.
“So, do you think it would be cool to be a Priest?” I asked.
Looking at the vestments, and candles, and various “priest props” that were out for the kids to explore, he said, “Yeah, sure, I will be a Priest.”
A woman, overhearing our conversation, stepped in with some advice of her own. “Now, Luke…you can be whatever you want to be when you grow up. Right, Mom?”
Since that day, Luke has announced his desire to be a Priest many times. In therapy, when it was suggested Luke would not have the same fears he has now as when he is grown and married, Luke politely informed his therapist, “But I am not getting married. I am gonna be a priest.”
And on a walk with some friends, he proudly told his buddy’s father, “When I grow up I am gonna be a football player first, then I am gonna be a priest.”
People’s reactions to this are always interesting. Some remain silent, not knowing what to say at all. Some choose to laugh it off, with a, “Honey did ya hear that? Luke wants to be a Priest!!!”
And then there is the “Oh well, you’ve got a lot of time before you decide something like that” response, always joined by a chuckle and a look towards me that reads “Don’t worry, he won’t really become a priest.”
But the one comment that still rings in my ears is the one of the Catholic woman, in the Catholic church, at the altar, with my seven-year-old son.
“Now, Luke…you can be whatever you want to be when you grow up.” Exactly what did she mean by that? Did she think I was a pushy mom, forcing a small child to choose the priesthood? Did she think that I was grooming him to be a priest no matter what he desired for himself? Because I assure you, I am not pushing. Suggesting? Absolutely. And so what? So what if I do suggest this vocation? What’s wrong with that?
When a child says they want to be an astronaut when they grow up, what’s the reaction? Or how about a ballerina? Or a scientist? Or a doctor? Or a veterinarian? Would you tell them, “Oh, now, you have a lot of time before you choose to do something like that.” No! Never! You would say, “That’s awesome!” and not even think twice about it for the rest of your life.
Well, in all of the times I have over heard Luke tell somebody that he wants to be a Priest when he grows up, not once have I heard “That’s awesome!”
And frankly? It is awesome. Yes, I am his mother. Yes, I love Jesus more than words can express. And yes, I would be beyond thrilled if my son grew up to be a priest. So when Luke willingly talks about this desire, you better believe that I will fan that fire with all my heart and soul. Because the truth of the matter is this: If Luke’s own mother isn’t going to put the priesthood out there as an option for his future, tell me then, who will???
We live in a world that is currently succeeding at doing its very best to remove God from absolutely everything. The world is teaching our kids to worship money, celebrity, and material things. The world is telling our children that they can do whatever they want, that they do not need God, and that they need only to rely on themselves.
The world is creating more noise, more chaos, and more confusion, assuring that our children will never have a moment of silence so that they can hear the voice of God. Luke is never going to get the encouragement he needs to live a spiritually fulfilling life from this world. But rest assured, he will get it from his mother.
Is a vocation to the priesthood ever suggested as an option for your boys? Is it something you need to pray on or about?
“A vocation comes from the heart of God, but goes through the heart of the mother.”
- St. Pope Pius X
copyright 2014 Laura Phelps