Today, as is posted on various Catholic blogs, is the feast of the martyrs of the Church in Korea. Pontentially, this is an incomplete list, with the events and attitudes of the northern part of the pennisula, but I digress.
From the time I started seminary, up through the completion of my formation, I amazed at the variety of things I was able to do simply because I was in seminary. I spent a summer in Germany studying the language, a summer in San Antonio studying Spanish to work with Migrant workers, and various trips and opportunities that were open to me because of what I was studying.
Fr. Martin Fox had his own set of travels and travails, but one that he shared with his brother seminarians sticks out for me today. You see, he spent one summer in Korea teaching English. Yes, I know, I feel sorry for his students as well, but that's how it goes. One of the things he mentioned upon his return to the Big House on Beechmont was something unexpected, especially to American ears.
There were certain guys in the seminary there that had a little more respect, a badge of honor, so to speak, that the other fellas didn't: they could trace their family roots back to one of the martyrs of Korea, and they were proud to extol that fact. It was a plus for them, and inspired them to become more.
I hear that, and reflect on my own situation, here in the Church in Ohio. I was recently talking to someone about another priest, a priest I esteem and respect, one of the good guys. He was talking to a young man, I think a teen, about the possibility of a vocation to the priesthood. His father jumped in and said something along the lines of: "But I want him to make something of his life. I want him to do something important, be a doctor, a lawyer, etc."
The priest looked at the father and said: "You know, you just insulted me."
"Oh, I didn't mean any disrespect to you, Father, I just want something more for him."
Now, this was not me, which is lucky for that father, as he might have had a busted lip shortly after this conversation exchange, but I have been in similar conversations, heard enough stories like this that it is certainly believable.
I look at the contrast. In one community, the priests are esteemed, held up, respected, and they live to a model given them by martyrs. And in the other community, "I want him to make something of his life."
Having just come from a funeral home, and meeting and talking to many people that used to be my spiritual children, I can testify that the priesthood is 'something,' and can have a huge and dramatic impact on people's lives.
We often pray for vocations in a general way, but do we pray that my son or daughter has a vocation?