My Advice to Seminarians

Anthony Zimmerman
To HLI News Letter for Seminarians
Reproduced with Permission

I was asked to write to you, drawing on my experience of 51 years in the priesthood spent mostly in Japan. Fr. Marx prodded me into pro-life activities, as he has done to so many others. I will be brief.

- To be pro-life, stay alive. One secret is good habits and a good routine. Mass, meditation, Scripture, rosary, L' Osservatore Romano weekly. That's million dollar "priest insurance."

- Abortion will likely loom large in your ministry. Make the most of that fact. Turn it to good advantage for your repentant parishioners. Two days ago a mother told me how she coached two of her friends into the Catholic Church and Baptism when they cried to her about their abortion. Peter became pope after his sin. Convert your victims of abortion. We'll have a happier Church, better parents, and much better politics when this happens.

- The pope asks that priests and apostolic workers make the promotion of natural family planning a priority. Do it. Mother Teresa said in Japan to 20 million listeners on TV: "We are teaching the young people natural family planning so that the future will become simple for them." A million couples in Japan, mostly non-Christians, now practice pure NFP. It's nature's way and God's way. Happiness oozes out all over the place in such families. Every married man and woman should know how to recognize the natural rhythms of fertility. Make its teaching mandatory in marriage preparation courses. Make it available on special occasions in your parish, e.g., during missions, during Lenten classes. Abortionists go broke in NFP territory.

- Help your sterilized couples to repent. Maybe a good portion of your church-going couples who are in their 40s and upwards are surgically sterilized for contraception. They are your people. Don't abandon them. They made a mistake. So did many of the saints make a mistake. Help your parishioners to repent of their sin, and you will help them to repair their marriages. Suggest to them, for example, the virtuous option of choosing to abstain from sexual intercourse for a year during the ten days or so that should have been the possibly fertile times of their cycle. By doing so, they experience obedience to God, which is sheer joy.

- Some of your parishioners may be divorced and "remarried." Okay, don't be afraid to tell them what the pope said. They should "take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples." With God's grace a Christian can do everything God asks.