In August 2008, I resigned from my job to enter the seminary and study to become a Catholic priest. I thought that by August 2015, I'd be in some small rural parish somewhere, celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, reconciling sinners to God, and preaching the true doctrine which the people had been deprived of for so long. In reality, I'm almost right back where I started, a good deal more embittered and cynical about the Church but pleased with both my new day job and my writing gig with Return of Kings.
The one time my writing has ever gotten me in trouble was in the seminary, heh. As recently as 20 years ago, most American seminaries were hellholes of heresy and homosexuality. It's not nearly that bad anymore. They really have improved. But the scars of those dark days remain and it shows in what the seminary administration chooses to focus on and what not to focus on. I said so in a letter to the priest who was my godparent at my baptism. He complained to the vocation director who didn't think it was a big deal because I was, in fact, right about what I said. That year I was the cross bearer at my diocese's priestly ordinations. That same priest saw me still there in good standing so he complained directly to the seminary.
The rector used all of the usual Church flavored psychobabble: "Andrew seems like a deeply angry young man…" I could see where the meeting was going, and I was thinking, "I wasn't before but I'm getting that way now." Three years later, he himself was fired by the Archbishop. Schadenfreude is not a Christian sentiment, but I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel it just a little.
It does make me cynical about the diocese's constant pleas to pray for vocations. Why should I when you are turning away men who are both willing and able to be priests? Strictly speaking, there is never a shortage of vocations, for who would dare suggest God does not call enough men to be priests and provide for the spiritual needs of the people? Rather there is a shortage of the kind of men bishops and seminaries like who are both able and willing to be priests. The key word is "formation." They want to mold you into their own image and likeness, and if you already have firm Traditionalist and reactionary convictions they're going to make life difficult for you. They sugarcoat it by saying you have to meet people where they're at to accompany them on their spiritual journey and all that other Vatican II hippie nonsense. By their fruits ye shall know them; the declining participation in the sacraments over the last fifty years speaks for itself.
I rather enjoy having the greater freedom of the layperson and I'm glad I don't have progressive chancery apparatchiks breathing down my neck all the time. Even my buddy the youth minister, as a full time employee of a parish, has to deal with that bureaucratic bullshit and I don't envy him that, no matter how much I enjoy working with the teens. It's God's Church, so it's future is in his hands, just as my own life is in his hands.