One Reason I Became a Priest
The following quote is one reason I became a priest:
“I must study politics and war, that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.”
– John Adams, 1780 letter to wife
Ever since the 2nd grade, I’ve wanted to be a writer. When I was younger, I assumed that meant writing poetry, short stories, and novels, which I began to do. My dream of becoming a known and celebrated writer continued until my early 30s.
But as I reflected on my life and this quote from John Adams, especially once I got married, my perspective changed. This change of perspective was first discernible when I was an undergraduate at Texas A&M, writing poetry and contemplating the nature of Christian literature. It dawned on me one day, meditating under a certain tree near the Academic Building on campus that it was not possible for me to write great Christian poetry with an excellent Christian culture behind. I had intimations that poetry was not as much the product of individual genius but a collective genius.
Later, as this Adams quote simmered in my soul, I had the epiphany that it would be my grandchildren who would write the great Christian poetry and novels and that my focus should be elsewhere. I realized that my masterpiece was to be not my Great American Novel but my children and that my first love, after my wife, should be the Church.
And then I knew that I must hurl myself exuberantly into the life of the Church as a priest that my children could plant parochial Christian schools and help create an authentic Christian culture so that my grandchildren could write the Christian poetry and novels I had hoped to write.
This wasn’t the most important reason I accepted God’s call to become ordained, but it was an important factor He used in my life.
Perhaps Adams’s quote will be the seed for some of you to recognize the task before this generation of Christians to edify the Church, which is the Body and Bride of Jesus, so that we may not only be the light of the world but also proclaim Christ and His Kingdom not only with our lips but with our lives.