From fishermen to fishers of men
By many he was known to be the greatest towering figure of the 12th century—living from 1090-1153, admired, loved, imitated and followed—his name SAINT BERNARD OF CLAIRVAUX.

When he walked down the streets many of the mothers would lock their doors and hide their children. The reason? Bernard’s magnetism! They knew that one contact with this towering cultural, moral and spiritual giant would mean they would lose their sons or daughters to the Religious life or to the priesthood.

St. Bernard-- a human magnet
Indeed among the many charismatic graces of St. Bernard was the magnetic appeal he had over the young to leave all they had for the greatest treasure—the Lord Jesus Christ. Bernard reflected the holiness, purity and magnetism of Jesus and the young simply could not resist!

Jesus, with a heavy heart complained:  “The harvest is rich but the laborers are few. Beg the Lord of the Harvest to send more laborers to work in his vineyard.” This article will highlight five of the major obstacles today that block the road of many young people from hearing the voice of the Master and consequently failing to follow Him.  Here they are!

The Rich man said no to following Jesus
1.    MATERIALISM AND ATTACHMENT TO POSSESSIONS.  This is not new!  A Rich young man approaches Jesus with an overflowing enthusiasm, asking the Lord what was required to enter the Kingdom. Jesus gave a double response!  First, Jesus stated unequivocally that to gain eternal life it was necessary to observe the Commandments.   The Rich young man, up to this point had lived an upright and moral life having observed the Commandments. Now the challenge!  Jesus loved him and wanted the young man to go beyond mere observance of the law but to give himself totally to the love of God and salvation of souls. Jesus said:  “If you want to be perfect, then go, sell what you have and give to the poor and follow me and then you will have riches in heaven.” Upon hearing these words, the face of the young man fell as well as his spirits and he got up and left Jesus never to return again. Why?  His possessions. Actually his possessions possessed him. He was a slave of his possessions which totally blinded him from seeing and hearing the treasure that he had before his very eyes—JESUS, the pearl of infinite value.  For this reason Jesus asserted:  “You cannot serve God and money.”

Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
2.    FREUDIANSIM/ FALSE VISION OF HUMAN SEXUALITY. We live in a highly sensate and sexual society. To be blunt: we live in a pornographic society.  This being the case very few understand, less do they live, the virtue of chastity.  Celibacy is a gift or charism that is granted to God by some.  However, this gift must be discovered in prayer; then it must be accepted. After it has been accepted it must be both cultivated and defended against the onslaughts of modern hedonism and the imperious demands of the flesh. Freudianism would state that celibacy is impossible. However, the Word of God states the contrary; “Everything is possible with God.”   By cultivating a deep love for Jesus, Mary and the Church celibacy can be lived with joy, freedom, resulting in a most fruitful spiritual paternity or maternity.  That is to say, those who have the charism of celibacy do not deny their paternity nor maternity but sublimate it to a higher plane—becoming spiritual Fathers or Mothers to a family that has no limits!

God is always faithful to us
3.    FEAR OF PERMANENT COMMITMENT.   In a society where close to 60% of marriages end in divorce, the economy is unstable, and progress is whirling at an incredible pace, many young people are afraid to make a permanent commitment.   Why? Many have seen marriages cave in, as well as priests and religious bailing out and jumping ship. Consequently, they fear whether or not they are capable of making a full-time commitment, a decision that would last their entire life!   In the spiritual cross-country marathon, many ask themselves interiorly, can I persevere until the end.  The world says no to this, but all things are possible with God. God is our Rock, fortress, mainstay and solid foundation on which to build a secure life and future.  If you like in the words of the most famous Psalm of all times:  “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall lack.” (Psalm 23:1)

Courage of St. Peter-- his crucifixion for Jesus
4.    CRISIS IN MANHOOD. It is no surprise for those who are aware of the “Signs of the times” as well as the fall in vocations and crises in the Church, the reality of the infiltration in the Seminaries as well as into the priesthood itself of a homosexual subculture, which has seriously undermined the true, authentic and serious candidates for the priesthood. Well worth reading is the classic “Good bye, good men”, written by the journalist Michael Rose.   The essence of this book, in which he has studied seriously various seminaries over the past few decades, is that the “good men” who had authentic vocations were shewed out of the seminary.  The reason?  Well, they would pray the Rosary and visit the Blessed Sacrament, cultivate devotions and would maintain their faithful allegiance to the Magisterium and the teachings of the Holy Father.  Because of all these “antiquated and obsolete” practices they were deemed unfit to pursue their priestly vocation and were ousted and given the axe!  Whereas the effeminate, unorthodox, and undisciplined candidates were accepted, given the green light and ordained.   Consequently, what have we seen in the past few decades?  Not so much problems with molesting children—sad to say there are a few cases. However, the huge majority of failures have been due to homosexual practices among the clergy.  “Good bye, good men!” And a warm welcome in the priesthood to those who had no vocation to the priesthood and should never have been ordained!

St. Alphonsus responds to his vocation
5.    PARENTAL AND FAMILY RESISTANCE.  Not infrequently one of the major barriers of resistance to the call to the Religious life and to the priesthood are the family members of the vocational prospect.  A classical case was the vocational-priestly call of St. Alphonsus Liguori. Having received two Law degrees when only in his teens and practicing flawlessly law for several years he had an oversight in a famous case and lost it!  Divine Providence! He left the law-courts never to return, feeling he was betrayed by the world.  After prayers and fasting he reveals to his parents his desire to become a priest and his own father grabbed him by the neck and opposed violently his son’s vocation to the priesthood! Later in life Alphonsus stated that this was one of the most painful moments in his life, the fact that he had to go against the will of his father and become a priest. For this reason in his writings on the Religious Life, St. Alphonsus stated that parents can often be the best friends of their children, until their child decides on a vocation to the priesthood or the religious life and then the parents can become the worst of enemies!

In conclusion, let us listen to the Words of Jesus Himself who said:  “The harvest is rich, but the laborers are few.” Let us beg the Harvest Master to call constantly, but pray and hope that many young people will generously heed the call and follow the Lord and work tirelessly for the salvation of immortals souls. May the motto of St. John Bosco encourage the youth:  “Give me souls and take all the rest away.”