Dear Fr Anthony,
I’ve learned that there are thousands of ways to serve our fellow man without becoming a priest, so could you show me the conviction to pursue the priesthood? Also, the canon of the church seems complicated, thus may prevent the young men to discern his call. Is it contrary to the teachings of Jesus that the law is made for people, not people for the law?
It is true that there are many ways to serve our fellow man without becoming a priest and there are also so many ways to become holy, a saint, without becoming a priest. It is not my place or any other person’s either to convince you to pursue the priesthood. All I can do, and all I ought to do, is encourage you to open your soul to the action of God’s grace, and offer yourself with complete love and generosity to Christ for him to use you in whatever way he wants to serve your fellow man. I can encourage you to look and see if there are signs that show that he may be calling you to be his priest. If those signs are there it will have to be your love for him that leads you to follow the call, and not primarily the urgings of someone like me.
Church law regulating the sacraments, religious life and vocation might seem complicated when you first encounter it, but it is in reality based on clear principles and a great understanding and love for the human person. The reason for canon law is not to turn us into slaves of the law, but to direct us and help us more easily find out what God wants of us in a particular situation. For example, a young man in college might want to become a priest right away, because he is concerned for his friends and thinks he can help them if he could say Mass, preach and hear their confessions. He might not understand why he simply cannot go to the bishop and be ordained the next day if he feels it so deeply. But the Church has more experience and the laws which to him might seem like obstacles to what he feels in his heart are really there for his benefit, so he won’t make a mistake based on emotions and take on commitments he will not be able to carry out later.