What would I being doing right now if I had a girlfriend prior to seminary?
Would I be at Seton Hall?
Would I still keep Christ as my number one love?
Would I fall for the temptations the devil would have poked at me with to cause me to distance myself from the Lord?
To be honest, I believe that these questions are crucial for discerning the priesthood. If we think about it, every man called to the priesthood is called to live the celibate and chaste life. This is a way of life that has its downfalls but we must realize the NEED for this lifestyle in the sacred priesthood of Jesus Christ.
The first need for this way of living is simply to be a shepherd of souls. The shepherd should always be there for his sheep. This is one of the many reasons that priests in the past have acted out and were unfaithful to their promise to Christ. They went out and broke their promise of celibacy and chastity. Because of this, they were unable to live up to the standard Christ called them to. There needs to be an act of total self-giving. Hence why at ordination, priests prostrate themselves on the cold floor of the cathedral before God, the bishop, brother priests, family members, and the people to whom they will be shepherds to. The priest shows that he is not living for himself, but for the sanctification of the people. The title of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s book, The Priest is Not His Own, captures the true meaning of the total self-giving of a priest.
The second need is to be an example of how Christ can fulfill every desire one needs in his or her life. The world tells us sex is needed in order to live a life of happiness and completeness, at least to some extent. As Christians, we simply know Christ is the need that society tries to avoid. With Christ, we can obtain joy in this world and in the world to come. Fr. Miller, the seminary spiritual director, mentioned how in order to obtain a life of true happiness, we must keep Christ at the center of our vocation. Whether one is called to matrimony, priesthood, or religious life, he or she must keep Christ at the focal point or else the vocation will crumble due to the lack of Christ. If the vocation crumbles then your life crumbles and this affects not just you, but all those to whom you minister to as well.
Regardless to the answers to my questions, I am happy the Lord gave me the graces and blessings to bring me to where I am now. Quite often, these questions or similar questions spring up in the minds of discerners and seminarians, but my message is simple- don’t look for a distraction! Don’t overthink the whole concept of the “lonely life” of a seminarian or priest. Love what God has in store for you. Accept it. Live it. Love it. The Lord knows everything. The Lord knows what you can handle and what you can’t. The Lord will guide you. There is a price however. In order for him to guide you, you must first say “Yes Lord. I am totally yours.”