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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Life Is a Fragile Gift That You Can’t Take For Granted
Father Carlos Pi, LC (Spain)

P. Carlos Pi Pérez , L.C.
Fr. Carlos Pi Pérez , LC

I come from a Catholic family with deep religious convictions. Even though we did not pray together very often, we always went to Mass on Sunday as a family. God, the Church, and the the faith were frequent themes of conversation in my family. I am convinced that this was one of the elements the Lord used to plant the seed of the priestly vocation in my soul.

My father was an honest man, very responsible and dedicated to his family. He was a man of great character and an even greater sense of humor, characteristics I inherited from him. From my mother, among other things, I learned and continue to learn the capacity to find God in the all the daily circumstances of life, including love for truth. An example of her love for the truth happened back at the end of 1960s when ideas not in accord with the faith began to circulate “in the name of the Council.” My mother bought and read all the Vatican Council II documents to know firsthand what the Church had really said.

In my house, above all thanks to my grandmother and mother, there was always a great devotion to the Sacred Heart. I see this as another sign that God was preparing me for the Legion, a congregation dedicated to the Sacred Heart.

Two providential circumstances
There are two circumstances in which I can clearly see the hand of God and they remind me of the words from the book of Jeremiah: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.” (Jer. 1:5) Some years before I was born my mother had miscarried. The doctors advised her not to have other children (she already had three) because it would be impossible. Nonetheless, my brother José Antonio really wanted another little brother. My mother entrusted her situation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus…and I appeared on the scene.

In spite of it all, not even my birth was exempt from difficulties. I was born one month premature, I had become intoxicated by the amniotic fluid, and the umbilical cord was wrapped around my neck. The doctors did not give me much hope. But God did. After more than a month in the incubator I was allowed to leave the clinic. Reflecting on all this, I realize that life is really a fragile gift, completely free, that we cannot take for granted.

The second circumstance also took place before I was born. My parents were looking for a school for my brother. They thought of sending him to one close to our house but a friend recommended another school, fairly new, run by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. A little after this Father Salvador Maciel, LC, arrived in Barcelona to begin the Regnum Christi Movement. Providentially, he was received by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart in whose school he began to work as a chaplain. If it was not for this neither my brother
P. Carlos Pi Pérez , L.C.
nor I would have ever met Regnum Christi nor the Legionaries of Christ.

Studying with the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, I received a great formation, not only on an academic level but also spiritually and humanly. They offered daily communion, on first Fridays they offered Mass and confession, and in May the Rosary was prayed each day. It can be said that all the elements of my life: family, school, friends… were favorable so that the seed of the vocation could be planted in fertile ground. The final “push” came through my participation in ECYD (an apostolic work of the Legion of Christ to help adolescents live their faith) and later through Regnum Christi.

The misson: saving souls
I came to know ECYD through my brother. Two people who played a decisive role in this last stage were Father Salvador Maciel through his priestly example and Rafael Gil, a consecrated member of Regnum Christi who was my spiritual director for five years. I remember the two things they insisted on the most were love for Christ and the value of saving souls. They always invited us to do everything for Christ because he had loved us to the point of giving up his life. I understood that I had a very concrete mission to fulfill, one that depended solely on me, and that nobody could take my place: saving souls. I could not permit myself, because of a lack of generosity, my own whims, or selfishness, to not complete this mission. These have been the convictions that have accompanied and animated me to constantly follow the will of God throughout this road to the priesthood.

There are those who have clear and fresh the moment of their calling. In my case I cannot say the exact moment or date. I only knew that at 12 years of age God wanted me to be a Legionary. In spite of this I continued with my normal adolescent life. I studied enough to get by, played sports, loved heavy metal music, and at the same time attended my ECYD club and later incorporated into Regnum Christi.

The final year of high school arrived and my selfishness tried to drown out the voice of God. I had more interest in parties and going out with friends. I graduated with honors, which gave me a full scholarship to study in any university in Barcelona. Yet in the midst of all this the vocation remained present. Deep down I knew that if I wanted to be happy the only way was to respond to the call of God. I had to make a decision and be coherent with it. If I was going to tell God “yes” it would have to a yes with all the consequences that follow. I spoke with my spiritual director despite it having been four months since I had last seen him. Before going in I made a visit to the Eucharist. “If you want me to be a priest, tell me now!” I challenged God. I cannot explain how but I left that spiritual direction with the conviction that God wanted me to be a Legionary. I gave up fighting, placed myself in God’s hands, and I felt a great peace and happiness.

From the moment of that first perception I have received the grace of never doubting my vocation. There have been difficulties and moments of weakness in which I moved far from God. But the conviction that God called me to this has never gone cold in my soul. Many souls depend on my fidelity and generosity.

I thank God for the gift of my vocation. I thank his also for all those who have crossed my path along this road. Most especially I thank my parents, my family, and all those who have collaborated in my formation from my infancy until now. They have all been true instruments in revealing God’s plan and His love to me.

Father Carlos Pi was born in Barcelona (Spain) on September 20, 1976. The same day he received his baptism. He entered the Legion of Christ in 1994 and did his novitiate in Germany. He studied humanities in Salamanca (Spain). He has worked apostolically forming part of the team of formators in the minor seminary in France and in youth work in Salamanca, Rome, and Mexico City. He received a license in Philosophy from Pontifical Regina Apostolorum College and presently is study for a license in Theology from the same college. Since 2003 he has worked in the General Directorate for the Legion of Christ in Rome.

Translation of the vocation story published in the book "Vivir para Cristo"




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