I have not given up on my blog!!!
However, I am having some trouble getting to it. I have a plan to rework the way I get my messages published. It may take me a few more months to get back to my regular posting. Please be patient with me! When I am ready I will advertise my triumphant ;-) return in East Lansing and in Adrian (where they don't even know I have a blog).
In the meantime, the Diocese is putting together a profile of 15 priests to create a publication for guys thinking about the vocation. They've asked me to be included (you'd think they could find someone better ;-). Here are the questions and my initial responses:
For your profile, the Diocese would like me to focus on celibacy and how your life as a priest differs from others' lives in this respect.
1. Thinking back to yourself before you decided to attend seminary (Dave Hudgins, layperson) please tell me something about your current self (Fr. Dave in 2004) that your former self would find interesting.
2. Thinking about your life now and how it differs from the lives of most people, please answer the following questions provided by Fr. Jerry Vincke.
a. How do you see the counsels of obedience and celibacy?
b. How would you help a layperson understand the value of celibacy in the life of a priest?
c. What do you struggle with in the areas of obedience and celibacy?
3. What message would you like to share with any man considering priesthood?
As a priest, what I find most amazing is how God works through me. Before I entered seminary I loved and respected the priests in my life, but I focused more on them and less on what God was doing through them. The grace, the power, the inspiration, the joy, the love, the tireless service comes from our Good God. Of course the priest cooperates with God and is His instrument, but the driving force, the spiritual muscle flows from the Holy Spirit. I did not appreciate this before becoming a priest. Now as a pastor, seeing God’s awesome work, I realize that He makes it happen.
In our time, obedience is caricatured as a drill sergeant barking at a recruit. For me, obedience is freedom from my own willfulness and selfishness. It’s not about what I want; it’s about what the people need. The bishop knows the needs of the diocese. He has the broader view. Obedience helps me give my will completely to God through the bishop for service to the people. It is a public and external witness that I give God charge of my life. It keeps me from getting caught up in my own comforts, preferences, and points of view. Obedience also links my ministry to the Church and prevents me from becoming a sort of spiritual “lone ranger.” My priesthood takes place in the Diocese of Lansing, in communion with the people, Bishop Mengeling and my brother priests. Obedience grounds me in this ecclesial and collegial reality of priesthood.
For some in this culture, a life of celibacy is worse than death. For me, celibacy is a great gift; it is a singlehearted way of loving God and neighbor. It is a road to the “fullness of life” which Jesus promised. It is a call to happiness, a call to joy. Celibacy is a special grace, certainly not for everyone, but God does call some to love in this way. And for those He calls to this way of life, it is the foundation of their deepest happiness.
Celibacy is a way of giving myself in fruitful service to Christ and His people. By pouring myself out on behalf of God’s flock, in communion with Christ, I truly become a “father” to the people I serve. Sexual love in marriage means giving of oneself to one’s spouse with total faithful commitment. This marital gift of self is life-giving. Celibacy follows the exact same model. It is also an engendered way of loving. It is not physical, but it is spiritually fruitful self-giving with total commitment.
Jesus Christ and His Body, the Church, deserve to be loved by the priest in a total, faithful, and exclusive way. This celibate way of loving blesses and graces both the priest and the Church. Of course there are temptations, difficulties, lonelinesses, struggles, and dark nights. Married couples must face these same difficulties. These trials are simply part of every human life. They should not be considered lightly, and so I must protect my celibacy through deep intimacy with Jesus and sufficient time spent with good, supportive friends.
I would invite anyone considering priesthood to have the courage to take a closer look. Time spent in the seminary is never wasted. Many of the guys who enter seminary do not get ordained. However, all of them walk away with deeper faith, greater knowledge, and a cadre of friends for life. The seminary is a place to discern priesthood; it is not the decision to petition for Holy Orders. Guys who go to the seminary have nothing to lose and so much to gain. Remember: God is never outdone in generosity!