|Fr. Jaime Rodríguez Díaz , LC|
I had set myself a deadline: before the end
of January, I had to tell my parents and not
put it off one more day. Finally, the moment came
on a Sunday afternoon. As the fourth of six children,
it wasn’t easy for me to get my parents alone.
On the third try, I was able to get the
words out: “I have to talk to you.” My tone
must have been very solemn, judging by their faces. “I
think God is calling me to be a priest and
I want to go to the seminary.” I had not
yet finished speaking and all three of us were already
crying. The unexpected news had a bittersweet taste to it:
I think it filled them with joy and pride, but
at the same time, it was hard for them to
think of me leaving home so soon. I was 17.
Telling my parents was a definitive step. It was already
I was a boy like the others, and I
lived a normal and happy life in Monteclaro, a suburb
on the outskirts of Madrid. From the age of 8,
I had studied in the Everest School, directed by the
Legionaries of Christ, and the time had come to leave
the cocoon. I had a fantastic family, lots of friends,
plans, and dreams, like any boy who is about to
go to university. I liked going out with my friends
and going to parties. My studies were going well, I
liked to read, learn languages, play basketball, and go skiing.
Was I missing something? Why be a priest? How did
I discover my vocation? A vocation story is often compared
to the story of a seed. The sower looks for
good earth, plants the seed, waters it, and it grows
and bears much fruit. This is how it happened in
my case, too.
The good earth that helped my vocation
to grow was a big Christian family. My father is
a fervent and holy man of firm principles, with an
iron will. My mother is a joyful and fun woman,
both abnegated and holy. Since there were six of us
children, we learned from a young age to live together,
to share, and to enjoy as a family. Books, toys,
clothes… the little ones inherited everything from the older ones.
We didn’t have luxurious things or all of our whims
granted, but we never lacked anything. My father worked a
lot to give us the best education he could. Our
favorite vacations were always as a family. My best friends
were my siblings. The most fun parties were our family
reunions with our aunts, uncles, and cousins.
In my family, the
faith was not just something inherited, but something we lived:
we normally said grace, and when we were little, we
prayed three Hail Mary’s before going to bed, along with
another prayer to the Child Jesus. We ran to Mass
every Sunday, because in spite of my father’s pressure, we
never got out of the house on time… Everything was
done with great simplicity and naturality.
This was the good earth.
One day, the Sower went by and… sowed three seeds!
He called me first, and then my two sisters, Marta
and Gloria, who today are holy and happy consecrated women
in Regnum Christi. And he also called the rest of
my siblings to be happy and holy in their families
and jobs: Nicolás as a lawyer, Begoña as a university
professor, and Blanca as a nurse. The six of us
love each other very much.
Good earth is not enough.
The Sower, with a capital “S,” has to plant the
seed. How did it happen?
“A person does not decide to
be a Christian because of an ethical decision or a
great idea, but because of an event, an encounter with
a Person who gives new horizons to life, and with
it, a decisive direction” (Encyclical Deus caritas est, n. 1).
I am convinced that the vocation is not a good
idea or an altruistic decision; neither is it a university
subject. It is an encounter. A call and a response.
life revolved around school, and the summer camps and activities
of ECYD, which is the youth group of Regnum Christi.
I don’t know when I got the idea in my
head of wanting to be like the priests in my
school. They were all nice and kid to me. I
could confide in any of them. I remember all kinds
of get-togethers, excursions, tournaments, works of Christian charity… Alfonso Triviño,
our team leader, was a young university students full of
enthusiasm and almost limitless patience, with his bike always at
hand and his yellow satchel. We went walking together to
Santiago, to Pirineo to ski, to Lourdes, to Peñalara…
bici siempre a cuestas y su maillot amarillo. Fuimos juntos
caminando a Santiago, al Pirineo a esquiar, a Lourdes en
furgoneta, a Peñalara en tiendas de campaña…
In 1992, they
invited me to spend Holy Week in the novitiate of
the Legionaries of Christ in Salamanca. From the moment I
entered, I was impressed to see 200 young men in
their cassocks, in an atmosphere of silence and prayer, in
poverty… but above all, I saw joy and charity. I
was very impressed with how they treated each other. During
the Easter Vigil, I experienced a strong call from Jesus
to leave everything and follow him. It is difficult to
explain. It was not the logical conclusion of a syllogism,
nor was it the result of a rational argument. It
was an intuition of the heart, as real as love
itself, accompanied by a lot of peace and joy.
two years left before starting my university studies, which was
the natural moment to take this path, so I decided
to wait. And as time went by, the idea of
a priestly vocation began to weigh on me. Like any
boy, I was attracted by other things. I wanted to
have a good time and have fun, and I was
influenced by the trends and the atmosphere around me. I
had a head full of dreams and projects. I started
to think that I could do a lot of good
for the Church as a good Catholic, which is no
small thing. God had given me so much in life.
I was not able to understand or accept why he
was asking me to leave it all. When the idea
of the vocation came into my mind, I pushed it
away for later. I didn’t want to think about it.
It was like I was just going along, saying: “I
don’t want it.”
Good earth and the seed are
not enough, either. This idea could be forgotten, like so
many other things. In fact, the seed was starting to
In August of 1993, I was a counselor at a
Mano Amiga camp. Mano Amiga is a Regnum Christi organization
that gives support and education to people with few material
resources. We had a group of 60 boys ranging in
age from 9 to 15. At first, it was not
easy. It was hard for us to form a good
atmosphere of team spirit and team life in the camp.
We found that under their appearance of rebellion, there were
some really good boys with very hard lives: broken families,
problems with delinquency, drugs… Little by little, they felt more
motivated and began to open up. And I stopped living
in a bubble and started to give myself to others.
the counselors, there was an amazing team spirit. We were
with Alberto Reyes, a Cuban seminarian, an alumnus of the
international Maria Mater Ecclesiae College. He had a special strength
that he pulled from his prayer life. He always gave
himself to everyone with joy. On the last day, we
all had a knot in our throats when it was
time to say goodbye. I think we all cried a
little. No one wanted to leave there.
This experience was like
throwing rivers of water on my vocational seed. I experienced
what Jesus said, and what is written in the Acts
of the Apostles: “There is more joy in giving than
in receiving.” I discovered that the happiest man is the
one who gives the most, the one who gives himself
the most, and that whatever is not given is lost.
I couldn’t go back to thinking just about myself, about
how to have success and fun in life. During those
two weeks, I was the happiest person in the world.
Why give two weeks and not a month? Why a
month and not a year? Why a year and not
a whole life?
I wanted to change the world. I had
become very sensitive to the problems and sufferings of others.
I realized that it wasn’t in my power to change
the structures, but that I could change hearts, starting with
my own. In the end, the world is not changed
from above, but from within. Christ asks us to be
yeast the leavens the dough to hasten his Kingdom. I
no longer saw the vocation as a burden. The message
of Christ’s love is the answer to all the problems
of the world and of mankind.
And gave much fruit
years have gone by since that Sunday afternoon when I
told my parents that I wanted to go to the
seminary. I look with gratitude at God who has given
me the grace to persevere until today. I face the
future with enthusiasm, with the desire of contributing my grain
of sand, big or little, so that more and more
men and women will know Christ and love one another.
I know that we have only one life, and that
our time is brief, very brief in comparison to the
needs of the Church and of men. I have some
qualities. Others have other qualities. The Legion of Christ and
Regnum Christi are only one part of a bigger Body,
which is the Church, rich in vocations and charisms. All
of its members mutually complement each other, united in the
common mission of bringing the joy of the Gospel to
Father Jaime Rodríguez was born in Madrid (Spain), on
October 15, 1976. He studied in the Everest School of
the Legionaries of Christ. On September 14, 1994, he entered
the novitiate of the Legion of Christ in Salamanca (Spain),
where he also carried out his humanistic studies. He worked
for 3 years with youth groups in Valencia (Spain) as
the head of Club Faro and as a teacher of
Catholic formation in the Cumbres School. From 1995 to 2001,
he was the director of the summer camp of Santa
María del Monte in Burgohondo, Ávila (Spain). He has his
license in philosophy from the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum College. He
is currently working in the general secretariat of the Legionaries
of Christ in Rome, while also pursuing his license in