Newspaper Archive of
Catholic Northwest Progress
Seattle, Washington
April 6, 1962     Catholic Northwest Progress
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April 6, 1962
 

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16--Catholic Nwes Progress A 1962 Vocation Fruit of Many Sacrifices... '... he senses his awful aloneness" BY REV. JOHN P. McMANUS, S.S. Faculty, St. Edward's Minor Seminary EN a newly-ordained priest picks up he host for the first time and bends over it, he senses his awful aloneness. No one present--no matter how exalted his dignity -- can aid him at that moment. His alone is the power to change this bread and wine; his alone is the ability to renew the sacrifice of Jesus Christ once more. Yet this moment of the Sacrifice is the fruit of many sacrifices. For no priest is ordained without there being a long trail of sacrifices that made his path to the altar possible. The Lesson of His Home The earliest of these sacrifices goes back to his parents. The home they built was founded on their love for one another sanctified in the Sacrament of Matrimony. This love grew into the love of a mother and a father. To tell the tale of the series of sacrifices is to recall the hours of love and care, the sacrifices to feed and clothe, the prayerful worry that this one would be all right. It must be remembered, too, in the patient moments when prayers were carefully taught, when slowly but lovingly a treasured Christian heritage was handed on in the family rosary, in the blessed candles, in the holy pictures about the house. Christmas, Easter and the feasts of Our Lady as explaintl by a mother's faith and seen in a father's de- votion deepened tht wealth of that heritage. But behind the Christian home there stood the self-sacrificing love of a mother and a father teaching a future priest the true meaning of love. The Lesson of His Schooling And at school the silent lesson goes on. For there our future priest meets the religious and the dedicattl lay teachers. Here he learns that real sacrifice means a life given to God, but in the very giving, joy is found. As he grows used to the nuns and learns to know something about them, he finds that they too have left a home like his own. In many cases, they have come from great distances to teach in his school. As he becomes familiar with the rou- tine of their lives, he sees that they have made a real sacrifice of this world. Their garb, their very names set them apart. And so, slowly he learns the sacrifice of poverty, chastity stud obedience from these liv- ing examples. And there is an added lesson. For here is no gloomy giving. There is a joy" about it. It rings with laughter and is gay. It is a gallant generosity although at the heart of it there stands a deep sacrifice of self to see that the work of God is done. And that lesson raises this boy one step more toward the altar of God. As he grows in the awareness of the value of things, a young man becomes conscious of how much he owes to others. He learns to weigh the sacrifices that others have made to provide him with a school, a church. He finds the same lesson taught him in many ways through the sacrifices of his parish priests, of the lay teach- ers, of the scout masters, the coaches, and those of the uncounted numbers of parishioners who give hours of their time to help run parish activities. The Lesson Applied As the desire to be a priest grows in the heart of this young man, the spirit of sacrifice that he has learr.ed in the lessons of his home, his school and his parish must deepen in his own life. A vocation that is fostered on any other spirit is already blighted. First of.all, the future priest must be will- ing to leave his home and family at an age when he is just becoming aware of the mean- ing of his home. At a time when the other boys of his age are beginning to enjoy the companionship of other boys and girls their own age he must make a sacrifice of this de- sire. The average boy gradually develops a desire to make something of himself. His father's trade, to build a building like that one, to heal the sick, to face the problems of the law. These are goals that he is familiar with. H'e knows men who practice some of them. Others he knows from seeing them in practice or from hearing about them or seeing their effects. But the priesthood is hidden behind  veil. What is its life like? What does it demand? What are the personal rewards tlmt it brings? How can he know the answers to these ques- tions, except in the vaguest way? So he studies for something far in the fu- ture--making a sacrifice of trust that it will all be worth it. Nor is this the only sacrifice. There is a gift of self in becoming a man of prayer, in giving to studies long hours, in spend- ing vacations when a careful line must be drawn between his recreation and those of his friends. And these are but a few of them. But like steps leading up to the altar, these sacrifices raise this young man up closer to the altar of sacrifice. His Mass, the Source of His Strength Here we must pause to meditate on the source of all this courage. Where did it come from? Its strength brightened by love reared in a Christian home. Its power tempered by love drew from a Christian home nuns and brothers who dedicated their lives to teaching others. The joy in its challenge called a youth toward the altar of God. And courage and power and joy are all found in the Mass. There is the heart of the secret. From that sacrifice all other sacrifices draw their existi once. They are because it is. It is from the Mass that the home where vocations are nour- ished draws its strength and its love. It is from her daily Mass that the nun in her convent, in her classroom and in the quiet of