The heart has reasons which reason itself cannot understand. -Blaise Pascal

CAN A FUTURE shepherd of God’s flock be faithful to his calling and yet be human enough to succumb to the wonderful feeling of love?

Answer: it depends on how one defines love. If we are speaking here of that special exclusive bond one has with a lover, then I say seminarians cannot and must not engage in it. Choosing to tread the thorny path to the priestly ministry in itself is already an acceptance and a preparation for an equally wonderful life of celibacy.

I say it is equally wonderful because the celibate priest can give himself fully and wholly to the service and love of God and his Church. He learns a special kind of love that he then shares with his flock. Jesus was the supreme example of this kind of love when He instituted the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist—when He gave Himself up on the cross. This is the kind of love that future laborers in the vineyard must cultivate.

But it is so easy to talk. It is another thing to apply the ideal principle, because, yes, we in the white sotanas also “fall in love.”

More often than not, I find myself sinking in a quagmire of confusion. During these times, I ask I know that Miss Could-be-the-right-one feels the same, and thinks that I also fit the description of her lifetime partner to the letter.

It is worse when you have to fend her off—it happens, you know, modesty aside—because you just can’t find the right words to do it painlessly. You find that you are not making any sense, and even that you are contradicting yourself. Desperate, you even think, ‘Where is God when you need Him?”

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Prayer for the family

But at last, even if I can’t understand the reasons of the heart, at least I relent to the reasonable fact that the two states are irreconcilable. So whether it is painful for me or not (it always is), and whether it is painful for her or not, I must pull away. It is only in choosing one vocation that I can be truly be effective—as a seminarian, and as a lover and servant of all his flock.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, enlighten our minds and hearts so that we may ever be faithful to you. Strengthen the motivation of your priests and seminarians that they may learn to give your people the love that you yourself gave. Help your people always in choosing the right path, so that all of us will be effective preachers by the example of our lives. This we ask through Christ, our Lord, Amen.

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