Grant Desme, a 23 year old minor league outfielder, and one of the top prospects in the Oakland A's organization, has announced that he is retiring from professional baseball to enter the Catholic seminary. The story can be found here.
I do not know if Grant would ever read this blog, but our best wishes and prayers go with him in his journey to the seminary. Not only is he giving up the potential fame and money that a successful major leaguer makes, but he giving visible witness to the love of Christ in the world, and humanity's ability--its destiny--to answer that call.
I love baseball. It is one of my dearest dreams to step onto a major league field as a player. (I was a bat boy in high school, so I have been on the field in uniform, but it is not nearly the same thing.) If one game contracts were in the offering for a guy who can't hit and has only a inkling of athleticism in the field, I would pay any amount I could amass to play a single inning. But, as Grant has said, in life each of has to "get down to the bottom of things." It is truly inspiring to see anyone, much less anyone who has the real potential to have fame and fortune from playing a professional sport (something that 99.9% of all men would gladly trade their everyday lives for), stand up and acknowledge that our lives are not our own, but belong to our Lord. We have to follow God's call, and have the courage and confidence in our Lord to hear and head that call. Here is what Grant says:
Baseball is a good thing, but that felt selfish of me when I felt that God was calling me more. It took awhile to trust that and open up to it and aim full steam toward him ... I love the game, but I'm going to aspire to higher things.I love the priesthood. I have high school and college friends that are priests. I have had the joy in my life to know and love many good priests. The love of a game cannot compare. I remember my first communion with Father Hagerty, receiving quarters and absolution (not at the same time, not in the same setting) from Father O'Connor, Father Malone's homilies with his eyes closed while he described a devious boyhood that grew into a love of Christ that took him half way around the world as a missionary, Monsignor Madden's kindness and gentleness of heart and his ability to kick a soccer ball for hours with the kids after school, Father Alan's growth and blossoming as a priest, and Bishop John Snyder's true humility and obvious love for all of his flock.
Priests get a bad rap in the media because of a few bad actors and the media's penchant to tear down what others hold as dear. And, priests hold themselves out to be radically different in the face of a culture and society that places all the emphasis on money, fame, power, self-satisfaction, and self-indulgence. So, priests are an easy target for those who would throw stones. Many of the comments that were posted on the story of Grant Desme are abhorrent and uncivil in tone and message. This struck me, though, while trying to digest why people would anonymously post such ugly things--priests humble themselves in the presence of the world to serve our Lord. The supreme act of love, Christ humbled Himself to become man and to die a terrible death for the redemption of our sins. Our Lord was scourged and beaten before being executed on a cross. The verbal buffets that are tossed at Grant by the many cowardly commenters permit him to share in Christ's trials and better evidence his love for Christ.
God bless Grant and all those that answer the call to the priesthood, religious or consecrated life. Our world owes a debt to all of them that most cannot or will never understand.