Tuesday, July 6, 2010

This is just what priests do.

On the flight back from Rome, I had the chance to read through (finally) Fr. Brett Brannen's excellent new work: 'To Save a Thousand Souls: A Guide for Discerning a Vocation to Diocesan Priesthood.' As a Vocation Director, this is the tool I've been looking for in helping men discern the priesthood.

A former vocation director and now director of formation at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland, Fr. Brannen has a unique insight into what it takes to make for a successful vocation to the priesthood, steering young men (and perhaps not so young) through the sometimes difficult and complicated maze of discernment, with clear and practical ideas.

Beginning with personal anecdotes of his priesthood, he starts in a very positive light that shows the impact one priest can have on a family, a village, a country and the world. Moving on, he outlines basic steps for discernment, spiritual direction, virtue, dealing with parents, celibacy and cheerfulness all the way up to daily life in a seminary of today and the new priest's ordination day.

Acknowledging that a vocation is only heard in prayer, he also provides rosary meditations for those discerning a call to the priesthood.

Chapters 9 (The Seven Stages of a Diligent Discernment) and 10 (Practical Ideas for Discerning Diocesan Priesthood) provide clear and concise steps in discernment, such as 'God can't drive a parked car, it's time to move!' 'say three Hail Mary's every day,' Pray before the Blessed Sacrament,' 'write down the pros and cons of marriage and priesthood,' 'do a 'what can't I live without' exercise,' and many more.

In short, I certainly learned a great deal to help in my work, and men discerning will certainly benefit greatly from this work.

1 comment:

LargeBill said...

I realize it is just a book title, but the number one thousand seems like a low estimate for most of the priests I've known. Our beloved pastor just was reassigned to another parish (boo!) and a common refrain among parishioners discussing him was how his sermons left us wondering "How did he know I needed to hear that right now." No matter what my immediate personal failing or worry might be, he always seemed to find a way to address it in his homily. In a long winded way, that is why I think a thousand is way too low. A soul isn't saved just once. I've lost track of the number of times I've needed recalibrating or help getting back on the right path.

To you and all our priests, thanks for all you do to help us find our way. God Bless!