Tuesday, Aug. 16th 2016

Inside Scoop: People will treat you differently

Quitting the job, applying to seminary, purchasing my new four-volume breviary set, breaking the news to family and friends was exciting.  In my mind, it was only my simple response to God’s call.  I prayed God spoke, and I answered his call to enter.  Done.  And then I noticed various relationships began to change.  In the family, friends, and the parish

Naturally, as a seminarian, I was immediately introduced to new people. New parishioners, new priests, young men in seminary.  Over time I notice my contact with old friends dwindled.  This was a bit alarming to me.  I didn’t want to lose my past high school or college friends.  In both subtle and significant ways, you begin to see certain relationships fade, and new ones take root.  But of course, God always works things out.  I continue to meet new acquaintances, but the old ones (especially the ones that help me grow in holiness) remain and God gives me ways to stay in touch.  Following God only expands one’s capacity to enter into more communion (in prayer) and not less.  Once I heard this, I no longer worried about losing old friendships.  God handled every other aspect about entering; he’d manage this one too.

As news spread around the parish, there was an excitement about my entrance into seminary.  Every subsequent (and I mean every) visit to my parish welcomed many kind words, generous financial donations, and cards offering thanks and encouragement.  While extroverted by nature, I soon became a bit overwhelmed by these continuous encounters.  I told my parish priest, and he assured me that even as uncomfortable as it may seem to be sought after and given gifts or money people genuinely are proud and happy for young men pursuing a vocation in the priesthood.  It brings people hope and joy for the future of the Church.  I realized that I was more focused on myself and not on the charity people have had at the sight of a young adult pursuing God’s will seriously.  Now, it’s merely a matter of taking the charity of others who approach me and in turn approach the Lord in praise and adoration for my generous brothers and sisters.

As for my mother, I noticed an intense change in her affection for me.  She’s always feels obligated to be involved and ask me tons of questions about every possible decision about my discernment. This bothered me at first.  I think as mothers and fathers see their son take a path that involves the celibate life they imagine the worst thing possible-loneliness, and try to compensate for what they might consider being a lonely lifestyle.  If only they saw the schedule of a seminarian how they would be mistaken! This one I’m still working on.  Prayer and patience are all I keep asking on this front.  I think as seminarians we need to refer this one to our Blessed Mother and her chaste spouse Joseph to assist our parents in “letting go” in regards to any ideas they may have on a future priest and their life as a celibate.

All in all, people start to treat you differently as a seminarian. This takes adjustment on your part – but look around you. As seminarians, we have all adjusted to this new way of life, and any passage into adulthood requires adjustment. Relationships change, friendships change, how we interact with our parents change – but there is one thing that doesn’t change. God’s inexhaustible love for you as you discern his call for your life.

zgross Ziggy Gross is a seminarian of the Diocese of Green Bay in Wisconsin. This year he will be entering his second year as a Pre-Theology students with hopes to graduate in May of 2017.

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