I remember after my first Holy Com-munion, when I received my first Rosary, I would pray it every night. If my mind wandered while saying a Hail Mary, I would force myself to start over again. If I woke up the next morning and realized that I had fallen asleep before I was done, I got mad at myself because I had the wrong impression that I needed to be perfect in order to be accept-ed by God. I saw God as someone who had a lot of re-quirements and demanded perfection. I saw prayer, going to Mass, and following the commandments as require-ments, rather than gifts that God had given me to grow in holiness. Instead of doing these things with love for God, I was always scared that I wasn’t doing them good enough. I
would get very angry with myself when I failed because I had the wrong impression that God wouldn’t accept me if I wasn’t perfect. This attitude and mindset continued into middle school, when I began to think more deeply about the faith. This was also when I thought about priesthood for the first time. As soon as it came to mind, I quickly threw it out because I didn’t see it as a possibility for someone with my flaws to serve God as a priest.
Throughout the years, God kept giving me gentle nudges to think about the priesthood, but I didn’t give it another thought until a few years later. My wrongful attitude to-wards my relationship with God continued up until my eighth grade year, when I went on my first retreat. While I was there, I noticed that the high school teens that were leading it had this peace and joy that came with their faith. I was very jealous of this, as my quest for perfection had lead to anxiety, rather than peace in my life.
Realizing that I could actually have a loving relationship with the person who created me, I decided to learn more about the faith after the retreat. I went about this by reading, go-ing on other retreats, and talking to helpful people such as Fr. Dennis and Adam. Now that I had learned about what a relationship with God looks like, I was excited to grow in faith instead of scared of not being good enough. This new attitude lead me to get involved more with the parish and I started playing guitar during Mass, helping out and leading retreats, and volunteering much more. I had finally gotten a taste of the peace and joy that I had first seen on the eighth grade retreat.
Throughout this whole time, God had been patiently waiting for me to examine the thoughts I had been having about the priesthood. I knew that I couldn’t push the thoughts aside any longer, and I believed that I was finally in a place now where I can truly discern what God is calling me to do in the future. I brought this up to Fr. Dennis in spiritual direction, and he walked me through how he came to discern his vo-cation. I then got in contact with Fr. John Linden, the Voca-tions Director for our diocese. We talked and he gave me a book called To Save A Thousand Souls by Fr. Brett Bran-nen. This was a great practical book to discerning diocesan priesthood, and I would recommend it to anyone discerning. I brought all my questions and worries to prayer, and over time, He replaced my worries and fears with joy for His will and peace.
There are many reasons why I want to become a priest. One reason is because of the impact that priests can have on people. Fr. Dennis has helped me develop spiritually, and I would like to lead as many people to the Lord as I can with my time here on Earth. Another reason is the sacra-ments. They have played such a crucial role in my life and development. Just one example of this is through Confes-sion. Through the Sacrament of Reconciliation, I have been able to receive the mercy and forgiveness for the ways that I have failed. This was crucial in my effort to get past my own failures and forgive myself. I would love to be able to help people receive grace in that way. I think the most im-portant reason I want to become a priest is the desire to save souls. Of course, everyone is called to this in one way or another, but the priesthood is specifically designed to help people get to heaven through the sacraments and min-istering through the authority of the Church.
I am extremely excited to begin seminary this fall. Learning more about the priesthood and what God is calling me to has always been exciting, and I look forward to continuing this process in a full-time manner now. The encouragement from our community thus far has been very supportive, and I ask for your continued support and prayers as I dive into the next chapter of life.
God Bless, Josh Luttig