April 25, 2006

God or the Girl

Ok, this is a rant. I caught a little of this TV program God or the Girl over the weekend, and I was pretty much appalled. It's a series of shows about four young men who are trying to decide if they ought to go to the seminary and study for the priesthood. Hence we see them in all of the agonies and uncertainties of vocation discernment, and that in itself is supposed to be the drama of the show, I guess. It had so many problems, I hardly know where to start. Nevertheless, here's an attempt:

1. First of all, to set up this "god or the girl" dilemma is unfair to both God and girls. Of course a choice for the seminary means they have to give up their girlfriends. But it doesn't work the other way. As if a choice for the girlfriend would the exclude God from their lives. Perhaps A&E needs to be reminded that God instituted the union of women and men long before the celibate priesthood.

2. The program presents the choice to enter the seminary and the choice to enter the priesthood as the same thing. This is surely false, as those who are ordained to the priesthood or those who become finally professed in religious institutes are only a subset of those who enter. And this is not necessarily a defect. The Holy Spirit may mean for someone to spend some time in theological education or religious formation for the sake of something else that they are supposed to do in life. Such a confusion also places an unfair amount of pressure on the discernment of those considering a vocation to priesthood or religious life.

3. The pastoral care given to some of these young men seemed to leave a lot to be desired. One priest seemed overly attached to the idea of the kid being a priest, allowing him to live in the rectory and dressing him up in cassock and surplice for Sunday mass. Another guy was under the direction of a priest who made him make and 80-pound cross and then carry it 22 miles. As if the Christian life were one of agonistic effort rather than an unglamourous and quiet project of being docile to the Holy Spirit. I think this priest has watched The Passion of the Christ one too many times.

My advice is: skip it. But for a more positive treatment, you can click here.

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