Monday, December 15, 2014

Rejoice, Even in the Midst of Sorrow

"Cheer up!"  There is probably no more annoying and trite advice that you can offer to someone who is suffering.  "It's not that bad.  People are worse off than you.  Get over it.  Cheer up!"  I'm not sure there is anyone who has ever suddenly become of "good cheer" because someone else has told him to "cheer up!"  Usually, when somebody is feeling down, the last thing that they want is for some clown to tell them, "Cheer up!"

As we draw nearer to Christmas, the sufferings and wounds of the world become more evident.  Many people find this time of year to be tinged with more than just a little sadness.  People recall loved ones who have died, relationships that have broken, innocence that has been lost, and loved ones who have lost their way.  At Christmas time, we cannot help but recall with sorrow that there are victims of war, children without food, warmth, and housing, unemployed and underemployed men and women struggling to survive, Christians being persecuted, and people struggling with disease, poverty, depression, and addiction.  We cannot help but recall that we are not as holy as we would like to be.

In the face of all of this, we hear St. Paul on the Third Sunday of Advent say, "Rejoice always!"  Is this St. Paul and the Church telling a suffering world, "Cheer up! Things ain't so bad?" In the face of evil, darkness, tragedy, sickness, sorrow, disease, poverty, war, sin, and suffering, how are we really expected to "rejoice always?" 

One beautiful thing about the Gospel is that it never "skips over" things.  The Gospel isn't about "cheering" people up.  It doesn't say, "Things aren't so bad."  The Gospel is real.  It is truthful.  It never tries to whitewash anything.  It doesn't live in a world of make believe.  Instead, the Gospel recognizes the pain and sorrow of a fallen world and says, "Rejoice Always."  The Church is not saying, "Cheer up because things aren't really bad."  The Church says, "Yes, things are sometimes bleak and dark, but there is a Savior who comes to make all things new."  Isaiah doesn't say, "All of you people who think that being poor is a burden should cheer up.  All of you captives: things could be worse.  All of you who dwell in darkness and gloom: look on the bright side."  Isaiah announces that one is coming to those who suffer.  And, the one who is coming will bring justice with him.

The Christian is able to rejoice always because the Christian lives in hope.  We are placing all of our bets on Christ.  We are placing all of our hope in him.  Every valley will be exalted and every mountain will be made low.  The Christian rejoices even in the midst of sufferings, sin, darkness, and evil because the One who loves us is drawing near to us.  We rejoice because we are not alone.  We rejoice because "one mightier than I is coming."  The One who is coming has the power to do what the world cannot do for itself and what I cannot do for myself.  We rejoice because we trust His promise.  

The more we live the Christian life, the more intensely do we feel the brokenness of the world.  And, almost paradoxically, the more the Christian encounters the brokenness of the world, the more he is able to rejoice.  Why?  Because the Christian is filled with hope.  The greater the darkness, the more the Christian places his hope in the light that is coming into the world.  

As we live these final days before Christmas, maybe you find yourself examining life and seeing that things are not perfect. Maybe you find yourself more aware than ever of the world's brokenness. You don't need to cheer up.  But, you do need to rejoice.  Rejoice because "the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light and to those who dwelled in a land of gloom, a light has shone."  We rejoice not because everything is right with the world.  We rejoice because a mighty savior is born unto us and he comes with vindication and will make all things new.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Planning and Training Must Follow Encounter

All day today in Boston, it poured buckets of rain.  It just never let up.  Tonight also happened to be the night we scheduled seven priests to hear confessions at Boston University.  Despite the torrential downpours, five of the seven priests were able to make it.  The other two were called off when it became clear that flooding and traffic just wasn't going to get them there in time.  But, for the most part, five priests heard confessions for a solid two hours.

As I sat in the sanctuary, what did I see?  I saw five priests who worked all day, fought traffic, and got soaked in order to hear confessions.  I saw a young husband and wife team who worked all day, come in to play music in the chapel in order to cover over the sound of confessions.  I saw Bobby, our intern, directing students to the various priests.  I saw Wesley, one of our FOCUS Missionaries, warmly and genuinely welcoming people at the door and chatting with those who were leaving.  I saw members of our liturgical committee praying throughout the the two hours.  And, I saw college students and grad students going to confession.  

Some of the best things in a priest's life are the things for which he can claim absolutely no credit.  This evening was so beautiful not because of anything that I did.  It was beautiful because the priests who came encountered Christ at some point in their life.  It was beautiful because Wesley became a Catholic when he was in college, became a FOCUS Missionary, and loves the students.  It was beautiful because Bobby, Danny, and Camille had an awesome experience when they were students at the BU Catholic Center and then decided to volunteer here after college.  It was awesome because the majority of our students who participate in the Catholic life here were raised by good Catholic families and in solid Catholic parishes.  All of these people encountered Christ.  Perhaps, after that encounter, they were trained to share the good news in more effective ways, but first--primarily--they encountered Christ.

In his Apostolic Exhortation, Pope Francis writes that the first task of evangelization is to announce to everyone that Jesus loves them and remains near to them.  He says that this is "first" not in the sense of being something from which we eventually move on towards other more important topics.  He says that it is "first" in the sense that it is always primary.  It can never be presumed, skipped over, or left behind.

In a particular way, I am mindful tonight of the priests who are laboring in parishes and who are providing solid pastoral care for your people.  While there are certainly young people who are far away from the Church who find their way to the Catholic Center at Boston University, the majority of our young people come from strong Catholic parishes.  They received tremendous formation from their parish priests.  While training priests and people may be important on a secondary level, what is really needed is a greater emphasis on what is primary.  We need parishes where the encounter is primary.  We need parishes where people encounter Christ.  That is something that you cannot manufacture.  It is something that demands a spiritual life.  It is something that depends upon an openness to the Holy Spirit.

Planning and training are good, but they have to follow love.  Planning and training have to follow an encounter with Christ.  This encounter cannot be presumed, skipped over, or left behind.  I've seen planning and training without the encounter. It comes across as statistical, scientific, and inhuman.  On the other hand, when planning and training follow an encounter, they can assist in teach effectively sharing the joy of that encounter.  But, if the encounter doesn't come first--and isn't lived as a continued primary experience--then planning and training become a sociological or ideological experiment.  It actually has the opposite intended effect.  Instead of drawing people closer to Christ, it drives them away because it sounds cynical and clinical.

Tonight, I witnessed something beautiful.  Priests, penitents, and lay men and women sharing the joy of the Gospel . . . the joy of the Sacraments.  They put their training to good use.  But, their training is at the service of something that came first and remains first: an encounter.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Confession: The Best Gift for Christmas

Dear Friends in Christ,

On Tuesday December 9th from 7-9pm, there will be seven priests available for the Sacrament of Confession at Marsh Chapel at Boston University.  Are you looking for the perfect gift to give the Christ Child?  This is it:  Give Him your sins.  That is all he wants.  Are you looking to give a gift to one of your friends?  Invite him or her to come to confession with you.  For so many people, all they need is an invitation.  They need a friend who is willing to accompany them to the manger . . . to the confessional.  There's nothing lost by saying to someone, "I'm going to confession tonight.  Do you want to go too?"

Some might say, "It's been so long, I don't know what to do."  Answer: Don't worry about it.  They will provide an examination of conscience (you can also share this one HERE).  And as far as the format, the priest will help you."

Some might say, "I've done some pretty bad stuff."  Answer: "Yeah, that's why we have confession.  You're not going to say anything that the priest hasn't heard a thousand times before."

Some might say, "I'm afraid to go to confession."  Answer: "Yeah, I always get nervous too.  But, the building has never fallen down after I've confessed, the priest has never flipped out or had a stroke, and I always leave feeling better."

Some might say, "Will the priest think less of me?"  Answer: "Go to confession to Fr. Barnes then.  Out of all the priests hearing confessions, he's the biggest sinner among them.  He's got so many sins of his own, he doesn't have time to think less of you."

Are there things that you are particularly embarrassed about, ashamed of, or afraid to bring to light?  That is exactly what you should confess!  The Devil--who before the sin--tries to convince us that the sin is "no big deal," after the sin tries to convince us that we should be so ashamed that we shouldn't dare try to be forgiven for it.  "Keep it a secret.  Act like it didn't happen."  Don't be blackmailed!  Once we confess our sins--especially those sins which cause us the most embarrassment--we are truly set free.  We realize that this thing that tried to exercise such power over us is really small compared to the infinite mercy of Christ.

Oh yeah . . . and what does the priest think when he hears someone say, "It's been a really long time since my last confession" or when he hears someone confess some particularly serious sin?  The priest thinks, "Who am I to be so privileged to hear this beautiful confession and to be a minister of so great a Mercy?"  

Tuesday December 9th from 7-9pm.  Come.  Bring a friend.  The Manger of Mercy is wide open.

Your Fellow Sinner and Brother in Christ,

Fr. David Barnes

Friday, October 31, 2014

What the Catholic Church Could Learn from an Evangelical With Same Sex Attractions

Nuptial Cross
Every week, the Catholic Center at Boston University hosts a spaghetti supper.  This past week, I found myself sitting next to a gentleman who helps lead the BU chapter of "Navigators," an evangelical Christian group.  He and a few of his friends joined us for dinner, and during our conversation I mentioned that we were having a presentation in a couple of weeks on "Having Same-Sex Attractions and Living the Catholic Life."  He mentioned that his group was doing something similar this week and invited me to attend.

Last night, I attended their weekly gathering, and a young man who works for Navigators gave a great presentation on the beauty of marriage and the Gospel vision of human sexuality.  A couple of times during his talk, he briefly mentioned that he has same sex attractions, but that was not the focus of his presentation.  His focus was on St. Paul's Letter to the Ephesians and how marriage is an image of Christ's love for the Church.  He focused upon how marriage between a man and a woman is the beautiful and God-given design for human sexuality.  His presentation was made with humility, joy, and serenity.

Clear and faithful teaching is always a joy to hear, but there is just something more convincing when such clarity and fidelity is accompanied by personal witness.  Publicity surrounding the Synod of Bishops this year made it sound like the bishops were discussing rules, regulations, policies, and loopholes.  In contrast, this young man gave a presentation that spoke of the beauty of human sexuality, the truth about marriage, and the grace that God wants to give each one of us.  He began with the truth and beauty of human sexuality and then he discussed sin, grace, and freedom.  Whereas the publicity surrounding the Synod made it sound like the Catholic Church was pessimistic about the possibility of people living the full truth about human sexuality, this witness humbly testified to the power of grace.  Did he fall short of living the full truth at times?  Perhaps.  But, he is nonetheless fully convinced of the truth, and he is confident that God, who has begun good work in him, will bring it to fulfillment.

A few things struck me about this event.  Firstly, I was just grateful for the opportunity for Catholics (me) and Evangelicals to be together in fellowship and to share in the joy of the Gospel together.  I find moments like this to be encouraging and fruitful.  

Secondly, I was struck by his methodology.  He began his presentation by situating sex within a Divine Plan that is beautiful and good; a plan that is centered in marriage.  From there, he talked about how sin has disfigured our understanding of this original beauty and goodness.  Then, he went on to speak about how grace can restore us and help us to live according to this Divine Plan.  This, I think, is what was missing from so much of the publicity surrounding the Synod of Bishops.  The headlines for the Synod all seemed to focus on the difficulties people confront when it comes to sex, but not upon the beauty of God's original plan nor the power of grace.

Thirdly, I was struck by the fact that this gentleman--who experiences same sex attractions--is a leader in the organization of Navigators.  It seems that the only time we ever hear anything about same sex attraction and the Church is when there is some sort of controversy.  So often we read about or hear about priests and other workers in the Church undermining the Church's teachings on human sexuality.  It's a real scandal.  It's a scandal not because they are "disagreeing with the Church's rules."  It is a scandal because it leaves people in sin and doesn't provide to them the lifesaver of the Gospel.

The guy who spoke the other night was a Christian man.  He was a Christian man who happened to have same sex attractions.  But, his identity was a Christian man.  Like every other man--every other human being--he needs the power of grace in his life in order to become more like Christ.  The presentation made me think about how there are so many people--especially in positions of influence in the Church--who purposefully attempt to undermine the Church's teachings on human sexuality.  And yet, there are men and women who--though they may struggle to live those teachings--believe them and try to live in accord with them.  We need people like this working for the Church.  We need men and women who can witness to Christ, witness to the truth about the Gospel, and witness to the power of grace.

I heard a Christian man give a witness the other night.  It was really beautiful.  He spoke eloquently on the beauty of human sexuality, marriage, and the family.  He spoke briefly on his own struggles to live according to that theological vision.  And, he spoke on the power of grace at work in his life.  He does not want the Church to teach something different.  He is too in love with the Truth to desire something less than the full truth.  A problem in the Catholic Church is that too often there are people put in positions of influence who do not necessarily adhere to the Church's theological understanding of marriage and human sexuality.  We are led to believe that the only alternative to this situation would be to put in those same positions of influence people who foam at the mouth and seek to condemn everyone to Hell.  But, there is a better way.  There is the Gospel way.

There are men and women like the gentleman I heard speak last night.  They are people who have heard the truth and who love the truth.  They are people who love Jesus Christ and want to submit their entire life to Him.  They are men and women who are living the Catholic life, going to confession, receiving the Eucharist, praying daily, and striving to live a life of holiness.  If the Church really does want to welcome people of same sex attraction, perhaps we ought to make an effort to include among our communities and our programs men and women who say, "I have same sex attractions, I believe everything that the Church teaches--including everything about human sexuality--and I am striving to live accordingly."  I don't know exactly how that all would work, but I think it would be fruitful.  I think it would accomplish two things.  Firstly, it would make truly clear that the Church does in fact love and welcome those who have same sex attractions.  Those would no longer just be words, but would rather be made made manifest in real persons.  And secondly, their witness would wield a power that would severely undermine the influence and power of those who seek to advance the ideology of the sexual revolution.  Contained within their witness would be the power of the Gospel and that is a power that sets people free.  The guy who spoke last night was filled with joy, humility, and serenity.  Nothing can defeat that.

Witnesses.  That's what the Church needs.

Monday, October 27, 2014

I Found Love at the Boston University Catholic Center Today

It's Midnight and I'm wiped out after a full day at the BU Catholic Center.  Pardon any grammar errors.  Here's what I saw today.

Fran.  She's one person who does the work of twenty.  She's officially our part-time office manager.  Somehow, "part-time office manager" translates into development director, mother, chef, general, confidant, who does everything.  This weekend was our annual phonathon fundraiser.  Fran basically spent the entire weekend being bombarded with a million questions from students, staff, and me.  She holds the whole thing together.  Oh yeah, and she is also chief cookie supplier to my dog, Finbar.

Bobby.  He graduated from BU two years ago.  He has given two years of his life volunteering at the BU Catholic Center. He arrived early this morning, doughnuts in hand, for the Sunday morning Men's group.  He organizes that, keeps all of the programming at the Catholic Center going, and mentors a lot of the students.  He worked the phonathon all weekend.  He never stops working for the Catholic Center.

Danny and Camille.  Both graduated from BU in the past few years.  They married last year and have a little baby now.  They play the music at our three Masses on Sunday--12:30, 6pm, 10pm.  In between the 6 and the 10, they run our RCIA program.  They also have a choir rehearsal on Sunday morning.  They should be exhausted, but they are joyful the whole day long.

FOCUS Missionaries and students made a couple of thousand phone calls this weekend, asking people to support us.  They worked hard.  It can be draining leaving voicemail after voicemail.  And more exhausting when someone says, "Oh, I loved my time at the Catholic Center when I was a student.  But, I'm not interested in donating."  But, these kids just joyfully endured it.  And, they clung to those joyful calls where people talked about how their life changed as a result of the Catholic Center and then made a donation.  

At Masses this weekend, seminarians came and spoke about their priestly vocations.  One of the seminarians who came was from my last parish assignment.  Two others were recent graduates of Boston University.  They spoke beautifully about how their vocation was born and how joyful they are in their vocation.

The Gospel today said that we must love God with all of our mind, heart, and strength.  Loving God is not just a feeling.  Love is an act.  How do we act when we love someone?  Firstly, we want to show that person that we love him or her.  We do things for the person, speak to the person, desire to be with the person etc.  Secondly, we want to tell others about our love for that person.  We show people pictures of the person, talk about the person, and love introducing the person to others.  We aren't embarrassed by the person.  Thirdly, we sacrifice for the person.  We give until it hurts.  We go out of our way to prove our love.

Today, I witnessed people who love God.  Not just in word, but in deed.  They show God that they love him by their life of prayer, by their worship of him, and by their love of neighbor.  They share that love with others by bearing witness to what Christ has done in their life.  They are not ashamed of the Gospel.  And, they sacrifice for love of God.  They sacrifice A LOT.  

I saw the Love of God today in the great community of the Boston University Catholic Center.  The Word became Flesh and dwells among us.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Catholic Center at Boston University: Friendship in Christ

October 24, 2014

Dear Friend of the Newman Center at Boston University:

This letter is an edited version of the letter that I mailed to our families, alumni, and friends.  I am sharing this letter on my blog in the hopes of reaching as many persons as possible  (not that too many people read my blog)!

The mission of the BU Catholic Center continues to depend upon you!  Thank you for taking a moment to read this letter and for supporting the BU Catholic Center.

In past years, the Newman Center Phonathon occurred in January, but we are moving it to October this year.  Why?  Unfortunately, the Catholic Center does not have any substantial reserves.  What we raise each year just covers our expenses for that year.  We would like to know earlier in the year what our income will be so that we can budget and plan accordingly.

Ideally, the Catholic Center could strengthen its programming and staffing and routinely make necessary repairs and improvements to its facilities.  My goal is to raise more money than we actually spend each year so that when the roof leaks (which it has been doing since I arrived), we have money available to fix it, or when the carpets and furniture need replacing, we have money to do so.  Or, when a student cannot afford to pay even a little bit towards attending one of our weekend retreats, we can make sure she can still come. Remember, the Catholic Center receives no funding from Boston University and we are completely responsible for the upkeep of our building, our utilities, and our extensive programming.

To say that I love the young men and women who belong to the Catholic community here on campus would be an understatement. I love coming to work every day and witnessing Christ at work in the life of these students.  It is my privilege to be their shepherd and to enjoy their friendship.  Many of them come to us from strong Catholic parishes and strong Catholic families.  Others come to us and discover their Faith here.  Our Catholic Center depends upon the gratitude and generosity of many. It depends upon current students and families, alumni and their families, and friends who care about forming young people in the Faith.  It depends upon you!

As a priest, I’ve had to write a fair share of fundraising letters.  I often say that “no donation is too small.”  This is true.  Please donate what you are able to donate.  But, I also want to say, “No donation is too big!”  I would like to build up the Catholic Center and make it financially strong so that it continues to thrive and to provide the very best pastoral care.

I want to share with you something important. There are people on staff at the BU Catholic Center who pour themselves out in service to the students. Some of them do so on a voluntary basis. Some are paid, but you would be shocked to know how little they are paid compared to how much they work. The BU Catholic Center functions because of the generous and selfless service offered by these men and women. I ask that all of us follow their example of generosity.

Since readers of this blog might not have a sense of what goes on at the BU Catholic Center, let me provide a few bullet points:

  • Daily Confessions and Mass
  • 3 Sunday Masses
  • RCIA
  • Intramural Sports Teams
  • Bible Studies
  • Men's Group
  • Women's Group
  • Retreats
  • Adoration and Benediction
  • Spiritual Direction
  • Weekly Dinners
  • Daily Holy Hours
  • Social Gatherings
  • A Coffee Lounge
  • Study Rooms
  • Catholics on Campus (A weekly formation night)
  • Service Trips and Events
  • Vocational Discernment (in the past five years, five men have either entered seminary or been ordained priests from the BU Catholic Center)
  • True Friendship in Christ

If you are a reader of this blog and would like to contribute to the BU Catholic Center, you can do so by seeing a donation to:

The Boston University Catholic Center
211 Bay State Rd.
Boston, MA 02215

Or, you can learn more about donating through PayPal or ParishPay by visiting the following link

I am very grateful for your consideration of this request. I promise you that the young people whom we are serving are worth the investment.

Your Brother in Christ,

Fr. David Barnes

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thanks JP2. I Love You

Today I had conversations with several young people, but two conversations stand out because they seemingly contrast with one another. 

In the first instance, a young man said to me that he doesn't often read my blog, "But when I do, I think to myself, 'Fr. Barnes sounds like he's the happiest guy in the world."  That, of course, was nice to hear.  I am, in fact, very happy to be a priest.  I am especially grateful that my priesthood has been lived out in a closeness to real people.  I couldn't speak convincingly of the Church if the Church were for me just a theory.  But, I am able to preach and bear witness to the Church with a certain force of conviction because it is in the context of the Church that I have encountered Christ through the friendship of others; especially the friendship of lay men and women.  In the communion of life that I share with my brothers and sisters in the Faith--especially those to whom I have been called to shepherd--I discover and experience the love of Christ.

In the second instance, I was speaking to someone about the diocesan priesthood.  In the face of questions about the vocation to diocesan priesthood, I said that I have little doubt that the work of a diocesan priest will increasingly become more difficult and that it will face increased opposition.  Is this the wrong thing to say?  In a worldly sense, it is.  But, today is the Feast of St. John Paul II.  Our heavenly friend knew that the real way to get people to follow Christ--the real way to increase vocations to the priesthood--was not to water the challenge down.  He knew that the real way to transform the world was to put before young people the challenge to follow Christ.  He did not say, "Follow Christ!  Take the easy way!"  No, he challenged young people to "Follow Christ!  Take up your Cross!"  St. John Paul II knew that telling young people to take the easy way out is not the answer.  He put his cards on the table.  

Pope John Paul II's way could not have been designed by public relations specialists.  His way is not the way of mediocrity or comfort.  His way is the the Way of the Cross.  His way is the way of the Gospel.  In our youth, many of us thought that the battle to which John Paul II was calling us would be easily won and that victory would soon be ours.  Many of us saw that the Truth which he proposed was so convincing and attractive that nothing could stop it from renewing the culture.  Even if the culture was being lost, there was a new springtime in the Church that would eventually blossom and bring cultural renewal.  The circumstances have not grown more friendly to the Gospel.  They have become more antagonistic.  But, the hope that is born from the Gospel--the Gospel preached by the Polish Pope--is resilient and indefatigable.  

Today, as I offered Mass on the Feast of St. John Paul II with my community at the Boston University Catholic Center, I thought my heart was going to explode with joy.  There in that chapel, I saw the fruits of John Paul's labors; young people who are living the Gospel and fully committed to growing in holiness and to transmitting the full truth of the Gospel to others.  This was the long fought and tireless efforts of an evangelist.  These young people are the fruits of St. John Paul's long-suffering and tireless efforts to preach the full Gospel of Jesus Christ.  I look at them and see John Paul II's smiling and intense face written all over them.  John Paul so often repeated our Lord's admonition, "Do not be afraid!"  John Paul was not afraid to preach the full Gospel to young people.  That fearlessness bore fruit.  Even today--almost a decade after John Paul's death--these young people are proof that the Church shouldn't fear preaching the full Gospel to young people. Young people are starving to hear the Gospel.

One of the reasons I started writing this blog was that I hoped it might be a resource for young men who are considering the priesthood.  I can promise any young man who happens upon this page that I love being a priest and am continuously filled with extraordinary gratitude for what Christ has given me.  But, at the same time, I can also say that fidelity to Christ and to His Gospel, will increasingly bring resistance and opposition.  The priest of the future will have to be willing to preach the Gospel with conviction and with joy and to suffer intense opposition.  

I can say from personal experience that the joy that comes from living close to the people and the joy that comes from faithfully preaching the Gospel is more than enough.  Beige Catholicism (as Fr. Robert Barron refers to it) is not why there are young college students lining up for adoration, Mass, and Confession at Boston University.  They are there because they are the fruits of the Gospel preached by Pope John Paul II.  They have heard the challenge and have taken it up.  Similarly, priestly vocations are not coming from Beige Catholicism.  No right thinking man wants to lay down his life--to give up marriage and children--in order to become a purveyor of Chicken Soup for the Soul niceties.  Vocations to the priesthood will come from men who have been summoned forth to the front lines to preach a Gospel of Christ Crucified.  The front lines are dangerous.  But, the joy that comes from seeing the hundredfold promise of Christ fulfilled is more than enough to sustain one in the battle.

I have loved each of the Popes of my lifetime.  Each for different reasons.  Francis for his capacity to be like a "parish priest"and to be his own man.  Benedict for his liturgical style, homiletic brilliance, and profound humility.  But, John Paul II has shaped my life and my priesthood.  I realize now, more than ever, that I heard what John Paul II had to say and I threw all my chips in.  His words and example said, "Put it all on the line.  Hold nothing back."  No one could ever accuse John Paul II of misleading anyone.  His proclamation was basically, "Risk everything on Christ and on his way of life, no matter what the cost.  To do so means that you will carry the Cross.  And, in carrying this Cross, you will find true life."

If today, a young man were to ask me about becoming a priest, I would say this: "Risk everything on Christ and on his way of life, no matter what the cost.  To do so surely means that you will carry the Cross.  And, in carrying the Cross, you will find true life."