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A Good Soldier for Christ
INTERNATIONAL | WHO WE ARE | TESTIMONIES
Vocational testimony of Fr. Paul Lara LC

Vocational testimony of the Fr. Paul Lara LC
Fr. Paul Lara LC

*Translation of the Spanish original text

God calls each soul at the proper time. He calls some when they are children, others after their studies in college. He called me when I was a little older, since I had already finished university and was working. God had been calling me in different ways, but I was slow to realize it. 

I had had a good friendship with God all my life; I had some kind of a prayer life, sometimes closer, other times perhaps a bit more distant, but on the whole it was a life of presence and closeness to God. When I graduated from college, I had fallen into a routine of work and my various pastimes; as far as money was concerned, I had all I needed to be able to satisfy all the whims that can occur to a 26 year old: I had the best clothes, the latest model of car, a boat, motorcycles, and all the toys that I could want. Let’s say that it was a life of “materialism” lived to the hilt. I had my hobbies, but nevertheless, there was something missing in my life, something that I couldn’t fill with any of my whims.

My mother had been in the Regnum Christi Movement for years, and various Legionaries of Christ came to our house on a regular basis to visit us. Those were wonderful visits, because we really did enjoy their presence and we admired them very much, but the admiration didn’t go any further than that; it never occurred to me to be like them. It simply was not the moment for me; in fact, I had no interest in attending the retreats and talks they organized.
 
A Seed Is Planted
Finally, one day I went to a retreat
Vocational testimony of the Fr. Paul Lara LC
preached by a Legionary of Christ, and my spiritual life underwent a drastic change. The Holy Spirit was working hard, and in that retreat, I perceived that my prayer life was very weak and that I had to do something to improve it. I saw that in my life, God was giving me everything, and on my part, I wasn’t responding. I realized that I should change my life, especially my relationship with God in prayer.

From that day on, I started to pray the rosary every day, went to Mass two or three times a week, had adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament once a week, and came to confession more frequently. I started to attend Regnum Christi activities and dedicated myself fully to the apostolate, but I didn’t want to commit myself too much because of a fear of commitment. I didn’t want to say “yes” and then afterwards not follow through.

Finally, after two years, I went to the first Regnum Christi Youth and Family Encounter in Chicago. There, I was told that I should be a soldier for Christ. In that moment, I didn’t think at all about becoming a Legionary; rather, I interpreted it as a call to be a good soldier for Christ in Regnum Christi.

One year later, I went full of enthusiasm to the Youth and Family Encounter in St. Louis, Missouri, without the least suspicion that my life was going to undergo a drastic change. It was a powerful experience, because along with two Legionaries, we brought 42 boys from Texas in a bus, and we had the opportunity to see them in action. The Legionary priests impressed me by their way of working, their manner of dealing with others, and their dedication to prayer.

The Watershed Moment
On the last day of the convention, I heard a talk about Christ’s great love for us, and that gave the story of Blessed José Sánchez del Río, a boy who was martyred at the age of 12 in the religious persecution in Mexico, known as the “Cristero War”. Never in my life had I paid such close attention during a talk. It was very clear that God had an enormous, personal love for me, that he had given everything, and that he wanted me to respond by giving him my whole life. I had two options: to live a lie by telling him that I wanted it, but then doing what I wanted; or, in the second place, I could love him with my works by surrendering myself completely to his will.

In that moment, I realized that God was calling me and that I had to respond to him by giving myself completely to him. I made the decision to stop seeking myself and to stop running away, to follow him wherever he wanted to lead me. When I made this decision, I felt a great peace and happiness, and at the same time, a certain fear, because I didn’t know exactly what giving this step would imply. Then came some days of doubt, but thanks to God, it was still clear to me that God was calling me, that I had to answer with a “yes,” and that I had it in me to be generous.

Something very important in this vocational path was the support of our Blessed Mother, and the devotion to her that I learned on my first visit to a Legionary community. It helped me so much to see the love that the priests and brothers had for the Blessed Virgin, which they showed in their prayers to her, especially in the moment when they stopped in front of her image to visit her and to pray for some intention.

Accepting God’s Plan
After the talk at the St. Louis Encounter, I spoke with Father Dominic Pham, LC and with Father Emilio Díaz Torre, LC, who invited me to the candidacy program (the summer course to see if God was calling me to the priestly or consecrated life) in Cheshire, which had already started and would end in less than a month. I would have to make the decision right away or wait another year before entering the congregation. My family still didn’t know anything about my vocational restlessness; I still had a job and various responsibilities, but I knew that God was asking me to give it all to him in that moment without any more delays. I spoke with my parents, letting them know about my desires to do God’s will. I left my work and the other responsibilities, and two weeks later I went to Cheshire. Ten years have gone by, and it feels like only five.

I never thought I could be a priest of Christ, one of his Legionaries, until I realized that God was calling me. I didn’t think I had the qualities or the vocation, but when God called, I couldn’t just say “No”. I had to give him at least the opportunity of showing me his divine plans. From the day I said “yes”, he has taken care of all the rest. At first, I thought I was the generous one, but I soon realized that I was the one receiving God’s greatest gift.

Father Paul Lara, LC was born in Mexico City on August 7, 1971, and his family later moved to San Antonio, Texas. He entered the Legion in 1997 and worked as an instructor of formation in Oaklawn Academy, Wisconsin and as a formator in the Center for Higher Studies of the Legion of Christ in Thornwood, New York. He was a member of the auxiliary formation team in the Pontifical College Maria Mater Ecclesiae in Rome. He has a license in International Business from St. Mary´s University in San Antonio, Texas, and completed his philosophy and theology studies in Rome at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum. On May 19, 2007, José Gómez, archbishop of San Antonio, Texas ordained him to the diaconate along with his father, Mr. Rafael Lara, a Regnum Christi member who is now a permanent deacon for that diocese. Father Paul is currently carrying out his apostolate in Aguascalientes, Mexico.

Este testimonio forma parte del libro "Ven y sígueme" que podrá encontrar en la tienda virtual Misión Multimedia.


PUBLICATION DATE: 2007-12-21


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