Explore the World or my Vocation?

Kent asks:

Hello Father, I’m a 19 year old guy who wants to be a priest, but is being stopped by my church leaders and parents because they told me to explore the world first. Should I listen to my leaders and parents or do I listen to my own heart? I really want to be a priest for my people here. I have really come to love this Sacrament of Holy Orders. If I were to go against their will and follow my desire, would that be a right thing to do? I am in a state of confusion with this situation. It also makes me confused about my vocation now.

Dear Kent,

 The one person you have to listen to above all is Christ.

Now, that is both an answer and a question all in one because it begs another obvious question, how do you listen to Christ, how can you hear what he is saying?  Normally, we hear Christ through obedience (when you are a minor, obedience to your parents; all through our lives, obedience to the Church).

I think you need to find out what is behind what your parents and your Church leaders are telling you. Here are some questions to go over with them:

Do you have the necessary studies to enter the seminary?
What are your motives for being a priest?
Are you really willing to give yourself totally to Christ, to seek the good of souls and not your own?
Is there anything lacking in your human and psychological maturity that prompts them to tell you to wait?
What do they see the problem as being?
What do they mean by “explore the world”? Sometimes this can have the mistaken meaning that it is necessary to experience human love by having a girlfriend (you can see some answers to those kinds of questions on the site), but sometimes it can mean learning responsibility, fending for oneself, which are good and beneficial things.

To enter the seminary you will need to be accepted by your diocese, so there is no danger there of your doing so against the will of your Church authorities, since they have to accept you. It’s different as regards your parents. If you speak to the vocation director and he thinks you have a call to be a priest and encourages you to enter the seminary, that may well be a sign that your parents are mistaken. In this case you would have to examine their reasons and explain to them why you think God is calling you, and if you vocation director still agrees, go ahead and enter the seminary.

God Bless,

Fr. Anthony Signature