Seminarian – Andrew Gutierrez
I remember kneeling before the altar when I was thirteen, amidst the Eucharistic Prayer, realizing a flood of desire entering my heart for the miracle happening before me, drawing my heart closer. It captivated me, summoning a deep curiosity within me, but for years, I only pursued it half-heartedly.
Throughout the next few years, my desire to be with ‘another’ grew – ultimately desiring union with Christ. However, in order to satisfy this desire to be loved and secure, I entered into an unhealthy relationship resulting in over three years of spiritual paralysis. Blinded by pride, I soon found myself pushing away the possibility of being called to the priesthood.
However, by the guidance of my spiritual director (a priest) the mercy of God broke through. He suggested I continue reading “Priests for the Third Millennium” (By Cardinal Timothy Dolan). As I read the last page and closed the book, Christ jolted my heart, and I noticed desires within me rekindle towards the priesthood.
So I entered my freshman year at LSU determined to see if the Lord was calling me to the priesthood. I began praying and going to mass daily and making confession a frequent practice. Obsessed with finding an answer, I solely approached the Lord asking, “Do you want me to be a priest?” With seemingly little response, the pressure and burden of discernment built tremendously. I longed for freedom within discernment, so I stopped asking the question that had plagued my spiritual life. My desire changed from seeking an answer to seeking an encounter with Christ. This seemingly slight (yet major) shift reduced the anxiety and swiftly put me on the path for where the Lord desired me to be.
Within prayer, the Lord presented me with an invitation to end the relationship and discern priesthood more seriously. Initially angry and distraught, I resisted deeply. Torn within myself, I pleaded the Lord for greater trust in Him. Relying on the grace of God, I finally brought myself to end the relationship.
After months of struggling with loneliness and doubts, I committed myself with greater intensity to prayer and discovering my deepest desires. One day, I was praying with the words of Christ directed to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan.” I felt myself in Peter’s position as the Lord was pleading to me, “Andrew, stop getting in the way! Stop getting in the way of my unfailing, infinite, pure love that I have for you.” I finally realized my deepest desires would only be fulfilled by conforming my will to God’s will. Soon, I could not resist the desire to enter seminary and continue the path to priesthood. The surrender brought freedom – true, authentic, fulfilling freedom.
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