If the world hate you, know ye that it hath hated me before you. If you had been of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you - John 15:18-19
I dearly love the people in our diocese and in my home parish. They're always so happy when I tell them I'm a seminarian. They always ask me to pray for their intentions and offer me whatever spiritual or material help they can give. In many ways though the modern world is extremely hostile to the Church and her teachings. This is, as Pope John Paul the Great said, a culture of death. Living the Faith - really, truly trying to live it in our daily lives and not just on Sunday - is quite countercultural. My non-Catholic friends have been 100% supportive of me personally even though they may disagree with this or that aspect of Catholic teaching. But as anyone who has been on the Walk for Life in San Francisco can tell you, many people are going to be rather more vociferous (and profane) in their disagreement, to put it charitably.
I bring this up because as everyone knows by now, the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8 the other day. Same-sex "marriage" supporters have already vowed to go to the polls again in 2010, and at least one lawsuit is going to be filed asking the feds to step in and issue an injunction against enforcing Prop 8. Our own bishop Jaime Soto bravely taught the truth about authentic marriage last year, and the other California bishops too urged their flocks to turn out and defend the institution of marriage. Why am I writing about marriage on a blog devoted to writing about priestly vocations?
If you desire to be a priest, you have to be willing to take those unpopular stands when necessary. You cannot be afraid to challenge the world when the world is wrong. St. Jerome once wrote that the world woke up one day and "groaned to find itself Arian." St. Athanasius stood for orthodoxy when many of his fellow bishops and all of the worldly powers were against him which is where we get the expression "Athanasius contra mundum" - Athanasius against the world. In other words, the priest must sometimes be a prophet. Preach and teach the Truth in charity of course, but never fail to preach and teach the Truth. If someone echoes Pilate and asks, "What is truth," you have a ready answer: Jesus Christ.
Defending marriage in our current culture is difficult because our traditional teachings on love, marriage, self-giving, the natures of the sexes, and the parents' obligations to their children don't fit well with modern technocratic understandings of "rights." This is especially true with the ready availability of evils such as divorce, artificial contraception, and abortion. But we, as future priests, cannot fail in our duty to combat these evils through our prayer, teaching, and preaching. The People of God deserve no less.