Sunday, May 17, 2015

The shortage of vocations and the proliferation of disobedience ..

Like most priests I've attended lots of Priest Assembly days and listened to the usual talks on the problem of the 'vocations shortage'. My own view is that we are barking entirely up the wrong tree. Although the lack of vocations is a problem it is not the problem, merely a symptom of the problem.

Vocations are like happiness - you cannot seek it in itself. Happiness comes automatically, all by itself, when we get certain things in our life right.

The problem about vocations is that we have got too many things wrong and I believe a major one, if not the main one, is that we priests are scandalously disobedient.

Every vocation is a grace and grace flows through the pipeline of obedience. When we are not obedient as priests we are discouraging the very vocations we tell each other we desire. Every single act of priestly disobedience, no matter how small, whether catechetical, liturgical, moral, theological, canonical or otherwise dries up vocations at their source - God's grace.

And the laity notice - especially the young. They notice when the priest is not wearing the right vestments at Mass or changing the words to suit himself; teaching falsehood or half-truths from the pulpit; saying yes to people when he should be saying no; not dressing as a priest should; handing his duty of leadership over to those who should be following his lead, and a thousand other small and large 'disobediences'.

Disobedience caused the fall of Satan and it was the deadly sin of Adam and Eve. Obedience was the painful path Jesus took to redeem us.

Reflect on Acts 5:32* and then ask ourselves: When are we priests going to stop the 'talk' and admit that the shortage of vocations is to a very large extent our fault - that we just don't deserve them?

*[And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.]


  1. Fr John, Such a wonderful post, especially the contrast between the disobedience of Adam and Eve and the obedience of Jesus. Thankyou

  2. Dear Father Speekman,

    Thank you for noting the direct connection between the first deadly sin of PRIDE (disobedience) and vocations to the Holy Priesthood of Jesus. Like the two-edged sword of truth your words cut to the marrow of the problem. May our prayers help all priests embrace their vow of obedience to The One High Priest and edify all of God's children.

    Saint Mary's, GA

  3. True....sadly, all too true! Your courageous and honest words, have exposed the truth and clarified the problem so well. They give new heart to those who also see the problem, and confirm for them that the are not alone in their concerns.

    May those who have ears to hear, receive this message of hope.

    We pray for vocations, but do we pray enough for our priests?

  4. This is really an excellent post. I am so glad to see an orthodox priest,zealous for vocations to the priesthood, who is willing to connect the dots. Thank you Father Speekman.

  5. perfect freedom through perfect obedience.

    His ways really are different from ours.

  6. Thank you for your wonderful reflection. I posted part of it on my blog and a link back to your blog.

  7. YES! Thank you!

    Just the other day I posted something from my reading for class on this very topic, but you've taken it and placed it in a modern context. The truth has not changed, from the Council of Trent until now.

    If our priests are not holy...we are not holy. If our priests are holy...they show us how to become holy and keep us there!

    (Um...we have our job too, to pray for the holiness of our priests, and live in obedience we know to live!)

  8. Father, thank you for putting into simple words the feelings I have felt about this problem for years. Instinctually you know something is wrong, are but taught not to question our priests. Thank you!

  9. two thumbs up father!!! excellent post!!!