American Life League’s own Rita Diller sits down with a young seminarian who has an unconventional way of celebrating life.
Tell us a little about your family and your childhood.
I’m the fifth of six children, and I loved growing up with a big family. It was a blast! Honestly, I wish there had been 12 of us! I’ve learned something from each of my siblings that has made me a better person. My parents really encouraged us to make God the center of our lives, and my family’s faith helped me to realize, at a young age, that this whole “life thing” wasn’t going to make sense unless I stayed focused on doing God’s will and hung on to the hope of eternal happiness with Him.
Tell us about your call to the priesthood.
I started altar serving when I was eight, so the priesthood was always in the back of my mind, but it wasn’t until I went on a silent weekend retreat, when I was 16, that I started to recognize a strong pull from God. I started going to daily Mass and asking God what He wanted me to do with my life. The call was gradual. However, there was a particularly grace-filled moment during a holy hour, while I was praying for a transitional deacon who was going to be ordained to the priesthood the next day. I asked God to send me a dove if He wanted me to go into the seminary. I wondered how exactly God was going to get a dove into the building! Right then, I looked up at the painted window above the altar. It was a huge painting of a dove. Things became pretty clear for me at that moment! I’m now studying at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston. I have five more years to priesthood, God willing!
How does it feel to be on the road to the priesthood?
There’s definitely nervousness about the permanent promises, such as to celibacy, but much more than that, there’s a real excitement at the possibility of getting to serve God’s people as His priest. To think that, one day, I might celebrate Mass and hear confessions is unbelievable. As they say, “God is never outdone in generosity.” Of course, at this point, I can’t say I know for sure that God is calling me to the priesthood. Discernment is a two-sided process that involves the Church and me discovering, together, God’s will for my life. The mystery of the future is part of the adventure, and it has helped me to put my trust in God and “let tomorrow worry about itself.” I’m just trying to say, “Yes,” as long as God is saying, “Come!”
I know your parents (Rex and Valerie Moses) from our work together in the Body of Christ Rescue (movement) in Corpus Christi decades ago. Your dad really inspired me and so many others to work as lifelong pro-life missionaries. In his keynote address at the Corpus Christi Celebration for Life banquet (September 4, 2014), he said that as a child you were very interested when your parents told their many rescue stories. How has being the son of a legendary pro-life leader impacted your walk toward a priestly vocation?
My parents are truly amazing people, and I’m beyond blessed to be their son. I never got tired of hearing their rescue stories while we were growing up. I remember listening to my dad talk about all the miracles he’d witnessed so many years ago. My parents told the stories to encourage us, but they were always very humble about it. I didn’t know about the New York Times article written about my dad [Lisa Belkin, “In Texas City, Newcomer Brings Abortion Turmoil,” July 7, 1990] until I accidentally ran into it online one day. My parents are an example of what it means to leave everything and follow Christ.
I know Bishop Emeritus Rene Gracida is a close friend of your family. He has written about your music, particularly a song you wrote for one of your classes called “Celibacy Rap” (see “Celibacy: Jesus Christ’s Gift to the Church,” July 23, 2014, Abyssum.org). It’s on YouTube and has some profound one-line messages about priestly celibacy. How would you sum up priestly celibacy for other young people?
First, celibacy is not sterile. It’s not about closing in on yourself or living like a bachelor. It’s about opening yourself up to being a spiritual father or mother, and being fruitful in that way. It’s “letting go of one hand to hold many.” Second, celibacy is not so much a sacrifice we offer to God as it is a gift we receive from Him. Jesus, God Himself, chose to become a human being and love the world as a celibate man. The possibility that I might be called to love the world in the same way Jesus did—as a celibate man—that blows my mind!
How have young people reacted to your messages promoting chastity and consecrated celibacy?
People are usually surprised. It’s not every day you hear someone rapping over a dubstep [a type of electronic music] track about integrating your sexuality! But afterwards, people usually comment on the truth they hear in the lyrics. A friend told me, when a lot of people I knew were getting into drinking, drugs, and the whole “party scene.” As youth, we’re passionate, and that’s a good thing! But a lot of young people disorient that passion to imperfect, passing things. I thought, “What if we could direct that same passion toward what is eternal instead?”
Bishop Gracida also shared with his readers your very powerful “A Litany of Lasts” (March 2, 2013, Abyssum.org). What inspired you to write this prayer?
One day, as I was praying, I suddenly thought that, with each thing God grants us, there must be some last prayer that joins all the other prayers that have been said and pushes them over the edge. It startedfor souls in purgatory: “For all the souls that are one prayer away from heaven, let this be that prayer.” However, I soon realized that it could be applied beautifully toward anything. I wrote a special pro-life version that I prayed with 450 young people at a march last year. That was definitely a grace-filled moment. A few weeks later, I got a letter from a lady who said she had given the prayer to an abortion-minded couple who came to Planned Parenthood. After receiving a copy of the prayer and talking with pro-life counselors for a while, they decided to leave. I wonder if that little prayer God gave me might have helped to save a life that day.
Your faith is a beautiful witness to other young people. What message do you have for them?
I would just repeat what the Church and the saints have been saying for 2,000 years, a truth that is unoriginal and yet eternally profound: Get to know Jesus. Spend time with Him. Stay close to the Church and her teachings. She has lots of experience and knows what she is doing.
Keep the focus on heaven. This life is hard. It’s not fully satisfying and it shouldn’t be! But there is a place that is. Stay focused on that place and doing everything you can do to get there. Lastly, I would encourage young people to recognize that nothing is more exciting than a life spent in the pursuit of holiness. There is always more love to be found, greater perfection to be achieved, deeper intimacy with God to be discovered, more spiritual mysteries to ponder, more pain that needs healing, more souls that need compassion, and an eternal life that calls out desperately to be found, yet lies mysteriously just around the corner, on the other side of everything. You’ve only got one life, and being a Christian is the greatest adventure. Don’t miss it!
What else would you like to tell us?
First, please, please pray for me! Each night, I pray for everyone who prays for me, so I’ll be sending it back your way! Second, I want to encourage young people to be open to God’s will in their lives. You don’t have to know when God will call. You just have to be ready when He does!