From time to time, I like to revisit a short booklet called “Lend Your Own Voice to Christ.” Even though it is written for priests, the introductory story titled “I see in you …” is a reminder that we are all called to invite young men to consider the priesthood. The primary reason they do not consider the priesthood is because they have never been personally encouraged to consider it.
“I see in you …”
John is in his senior year of college, an engineering student. The thought of the priesthood has been on his mind, almost daily, for a few years. Because the thoughts cause fear and confusion, his response is to run from them, to distract himself from them.
Watching John read at Mass and knowing his interest in the faith, John’s father has felt for some time that his son would be a good candidate for the seminary. John returns home from college for the spring semester break and that Sunday, the family drives nine miles to their small country parish to attend Mass. Due to the size of the family, they must go in two cars.
After Mass, while John remains in church, his father sends the rest of the family home in one car, so that he and John can ride home together in the other. When John exits the church, he is surprised to see only his father waiting in the car for him. He concludes that his father has arranged this. Although he does not know the reason, he knows that it must be for something important.
As they make the return trip to their farm, they make small talk about the weather and the neighbors. When they are within a mile of home, his father drives more slowly, he looks John in the eye and, with a voice filled with heartfelt care, says these simple words, “Son, the qualities I admire in priests, I see in you. And I want you to know that I would be honored, if God would choose one of my sons to be a priest.” He said nothing more than that; he did not need to. His father’s words claimed the attention of John’s heart and confirmed the thoughts in his mind.
His father’s words caused him to consider with a heightened seriousness the possibility that the thoughts in his mind were not being made up by him but were from God. Over the next few months, when the thoughts came to him, they had a greater credibility than before.
Eventually, he began to speak to God about his desires. He began to tell God what he was thinking and feeling and wanting. Then, on one particular night, as he anxiously laid in bed reading, filled again with these thoughts of the seminary and priesthood, a consoling thought came to his mind, “God would not want something for me unless it was good for me.” So, he made an act of trust in the goodness of God for him. His mind became still and his inside became quiet.
A couple of months later, John called the vocation director and began applying for the seminary. He is now a priest.
Let us lend our voice to Christ, together inviting our young men to consider priesthood.
By Father Jacob Boddicker, SJ
(Editors note: This is the second part of the column which ran in the September 2020 issue of the West River Catholic, highlighting The Buechel Memorial Lakota Museum, St. Francis Mission. For more information on the St. Francis Mission and our museum visit https://www.sfmission.org/)
The Buechel Memorial Lakota Museum is a small treasure-trove of artifacts from the Rosebud Reservation and St. Francis Mission. A recent Jesuit volunteer who once interned at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC remarked that we have items in our collection that even they do not have. What is absolutely unique about our collection is that our native artifacts have never left their place of origin: the things we have were entrusted to us by the people who made them and used them, and have never left. We are not merely a museum, but a vault of safe-keeping for items that would otherwise have perished, been sold, or otherwise have found their way miles apart from those who would appreciate them most.
Due to the small size of our facility, we are only able to display a small number of our available inventory, but even still visitors are surprised at what they are able to see. When entering the museum the first things you notice are the central display cases which contain example of Sicangu Lakota dress for men. One item of dress has strands of human hair on them, the meaning of which varies. Some say they are trophies of enemies defeated in battle, but more likely they are strands of hair of the people the man was responsible for protecting and nourishing by his hunting. In a sense, it could be that wearing such a shirt was a way of reminding a warrior and hunter of the people he had a duty to serve, and that their love and prayers went with him into battle, and into the wild. The garment also has examples of beautiful bead and quill work; the other garments on display show the same.
Our museum also displays a collection of pipes, moccasins, bows and arrows, and other artifacts (including a Martin guitar gifted to the mission by Johnny Cash after a concert here in 1983), along with a large number of photographs on display which represent only some of the tens of thousands of photographs available in our archives. Perhaps among the most fascinating are the Winter Counts. They are large pieces of hide, paper, or canvas on which are drawn pictographs that represent a historic event from a particular year. Each winter the men of the tribe would gather and discuss the events of the previous year, eventually settling on what they believed was the most important thing that happened. Whomever was the keeper of the winter count would then draw a small image as a memory aid so that the general history of the tribe could be recorded over a number of years. We have several winter counts on display in a gallery dedicated to these works of art.
We hope that one day you can visit our museum and appreciate the beauty of these items that have their origin right here among your Sicangu brothers and sisters.
Check out these great resources for Advent:
- The Magniﬁcat Advent Companion is always a great resource for parishes
- Rejoice! Advent Meditations with St. Joseph from Ascension Press
- Dynamic Catholic also has their $1 book program to hand out books at Christmas Mass
- Lighthouse Media resources for Advent & Christmas
- Formed.org also has a number of great movies, books, audio presentations, etc. for Advent & Christmas
- Complete Guide to the Season of Advent Hallow: #1 Catholic App
- As We Forgive Those’ video series from Real Life Catholic
- Amen App from the Augustine Institute