Seven things I would tell my son as he enters seminary

by Marlon De La Torre

North Texas Catholic

8/29/2018

Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash.com


One of the most endearing gifts we possess as human beings is being an imprint of God’s image. The irony of this gift is that it’s often overlooked or taken for granted. The truth is, through our Baptism, we receive this distinctive mark that can never be removed.

Understanding the gift of the Father’s love is very important as I hand my oldest and only son to God as he becomes a first-year seminarian. With the current state of priestly affairs attacking the Church among those who have not held or authentically lived their identity with God, one might argue that this could not have come at a worse time for all young men preparing to enter or continue their seminary formation. I would argue quite the opposite; this is the most opportune time as it provides an authentic backdrop of the challenges my son and other men will face across the world both spiritual and carnal.

Called by God

When my son began to intently discern a call to the priesthood, it wasn’t due to a St. Paul moment, nor was it based on a singular retreat or priestly witness. It was a gradual process of listening, learning, asking questions, and openly discussing what his relationship with Christ meant to him personally and how he envisioned it maturing.

My son conveyed that he knew Christ was asking him to be faithful and to listen intently. Answering a call to serve Christ reflects the call of the Twelve Apostles by Christ. Each apostle had unique gifts and talents. Hence, the way one answers the call may be different than another’s. A unifying theme of priestly discernment lies with an open and burning desire to serve Christ and imitate Him. Christ echoes this point when He instructs the Israelites in the temple, “My teaching is not my own but His who sent me” (Jn 7:16).

One who answers the call to priesthood desires a Trinitarian life with our Lord (Eph 1:10). What this means is an engagement with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as the central means of being united with Christ (CCC 2014). This unity allows the young man to be conformed to Christ and seek His Kingdom. This conformation also helps him understand the importance of self-renunciation by embracing the cross of Christ (1 Tim 4:5-8) and fosters a genuine holiness in suffering with Christ that brings an everlasting joy (CCC 2013).

The Seven Most Important Things

Son, owing our existence to God, one of the most important things I can tell you is to live out your baptismal call. This simply means that just as we are baptized into the life of Christ, we are also baptized into His death. It’s the first direct engagement offered by Christ to have an intimate relationship with Him.

The second most important thing I can tell you is to strive to live a life of genuine holiness even during the most difficult of times and circumstances. Sanctification in Christ supplants all worry, fear, and temptation that may lead you away from Christ. Actively engage Christ even when you do not sense His presence; this is where you will discover a deeper and more intimate union with Him.

The third most important thing I can tell you is to rely on the Word of God and the fruits of His Word in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. These distinctive pillars of truth will serve you well as you prepare to engage the faith with others and clarify misconceptions with charity. An important characteristic of a sound catechist is one who listens to Christ intently and then faithfully transmits His message with vigor.

The fourth most important thing is to constantly engage the sacraments to sustain you on your journey toward heaven (Mt 6:31-33; CCC 1076). Christ instituted the sacraments for the very reason you are discerning priesthood, to convey Christ in an intimate way. I recommend that you never lose sight of our Blessed Mother, the perfect model of holiness (Lk 1:38-55), who exemplifies a mother’s love for her child. Never stray away from her, keep her close to you in your daily Rosary as she will always be a beacon of light even in your darkest times. 

The fifth most important thing I can tell you is to exercise the virtue of prudence. Prudence will allow you to properly discern good and evil, right from wrong, false faces from true faces. It will allow you to rule and measure all actions according to your moral conscience.   

The sixth most important thing I can tell you is be faithful to the Church of Jesus Christ. The gift of fidelity reflects a person’s desire to place Christ first before Himself. It also means a call to love others before yourself. Fidelity exudes the willingness to obey God (CCC 144) which means an openness to listen to Him.

The seventh most important thing I can tell you is that the Creed is Christ. You are about to embark on a journey where the apex of your discernment will challenge your willingness to guard the Creed, i.e. the Deposit of Faith (1 Tim 6:20-21). Why is this last step most important? Because Christ died for the sake of the Creed — for the transmission of the Word of God. The Incarnation makes sense, the Holy Eucharist makes sense because of the very sacrifice offered by Christ, and if it is God’s will, one which you will also offer in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.  

As you prepare to walk with Christ in a more intimate way, know that your mother and I love you and are praying for you. Know that you are God’s son and I must turn you over to Him. Know that regardless of the final outcome of your journey, you will come out a better man.

One of the most endearing gifts we possess as human beings is being an imprint of God’s image. The irony of this gift is that it’s often overlooked or taken for granted. The truth is, through our Baptism, we receive this distinctive mark that can never be removed.

Published (until 8/29/2028)
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