Seminarian – Jared Rodrigue

Jared RodrigueFears. Each of these questions poses a fear:
What if I’m not good enough?
What if I fail?
What if I’m wrong?
What if I’m not called to be a priest?

But we often forget the more important questions:
What if I become great?
What if I become holy?
What if I change the world?
What if I become heroic?
What if this is what God wants of me?

These are the questions that matter. In truth, “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us…We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same” (Marianne Williamson).

I remember being much younger, standing next to my pastor, and feeling so small. He magnified joy in such a way that I could only dream of beholding. And, in my fifth grade year, when he died tragically, dreaming is all I could do. I dreamed of being his successor, carrying on the mission he started. I dreamed of giving up my own life so as to gain eternal life. I dreamed of responding to the call of fatherhood, a fatherhood of many. The words of Superman’s father in Man of Steel encapsulate the feeling: “You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you, they will stumble, they will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun…In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.” I longed to be the light, the helpful guide, the father for the fatherless. But I was still so young, so inadequate, so small.

At the age of 10, I began swimming twice a day, six days a week. I swam for multiple swim teams, watching what I ate, how I spent my time. I spent day after day aiming for perfection, aiming to be great. This continued all the way through high school. But the greatness I was searching for was still out of reach.

This dream of mine, this call to greatness, only grew stronger and stronger as time went on and as I grew older. There was no “Mute” button; there was no “Do Not Disturb” option. There was only the ever-ringing call of Christ to “take up my cross and follow” Him. It wasn’t until my senior year of high school that I embraced this mission full-heartedly. My motto became that of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, “Verso l’alto” —to the highest! If I was to embrace this call of Christ, there could be no holding back. And to this day, I’ve made that my aim. Each day is different, presenting new challenges and difficulties; but each day is a gift and an opportunity to grow in holiness. If only we could all say ‘yes’ to holiness, then perhaps the choice of vocation would not be so difficult or fear-filled.

In all things, I find consolation in the words of Pope St. John Paul the Great at the 1993 World Youth Day: “Do not be afraid to break out of comfortable and routine modes of living, in order to take up the challenge of making Christ known in the modern “metropolis”. It is you who must “go out into the byroads” (Mt 22: 9) and invite everyone you meet to the banquet which God has prepared for his people. The Gospel must not be kept hidden because of fear or indifference. It was never meant to be hidden away in private. It has to be put on a stand so that people may see its light and give praise to our heavenly Father.” Will you be the one to take a stand?