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This past Monday, many priests from the Diocese of Baton Rouge attended a special mass at Christ the King with Fr. Matt Lorrain to celebrate his 25 years of priesthood. When Fr. Matt decided to enter the seminary in 1981, he was completing his engineering degree at LSU. What prompted Fr. Matt to leave engineering and become a priest? What drives a man to choose the life of a priest rather than a life of marriage, children, and career? What drove me, a chemical engineer, to seek priesthood? What called our seminarian Matthew, another chemical engineer, to seek priesthood? What motivated our own parishioner's son, Brent Maher, who was ordained yesterday, to seek priesthood? Someone asked me, "How is it that you engineering guys tend to choose priesthood?"
My simple answer to that question is, Truth. Like so many young people in college, I wanted an answer to the questions, "Why am I here? What am I here to do? What am I called to be?" It was only when I was about to graduate from college and already had a couple of job offers lined up when I first mentioned to my mom and dad that I was thinking about priesthood. They said, "No way!" They were concerned that I was throwing away my hard-earned college education and they were also worried that they would not have any grandchildren. Then they proposed a compromise that I work for three years and if I were still interested, then they would not stop me. So, I worked at a chemical plant, dated a pretty girl and basically forgot about my interest in the priesthood, until I took a pilgrimage to a village called Medjugorje, in Croatia. The first few days in Medjugorje, I was seeking affirmation and blessing from God of my dream to have a career and a beautiful marriage. Then the questions came back, "Why am I here on earth? What am I called to be?"
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus said to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him. But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you." All of us want to know the truth and we seek the truth in our work, in our families, and in all that we do. Yet we find ourselves dissatisfied because we cannot find it. What keeps us from knowing the truth?
Jesus has sent the truth to all of us, yet we cannot see it or receive it. Now days, we all face a fast paced and complex life that leaves little or no time for prayer and reflection. If we do not take time to deepen our relationship with Jesus then we cannot know the Father’s desires for us. If we do not listen to Him with an open mind, then we cannot recognize the truth dwelling right within our own heart. Heavenly Father's spirit is present at every moment of every day unfolding the truth before our eyes. The truth is always there.
I couldn't see the truth because I lacked love for Jesus; hence I was not obedient to Him. What will it take for us to be open to the truth, to accept the truth, and respond to the truth? I said to Jesus in Medjugorje, "Lord, if I pursue this priesthood thing, you have to back me up. Can I trust you on that?" Once I arrived back in Louisiana, I knocked on my manager's office door and told him that I was going to leave in 6 months. After getting back to my office, I had a mixed sense of "now what?" and "I wonder what awaits me." Our Lord said in our Gospel, "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”