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Turn to Jesus (Article)

God has a plan.
Fr. Jeremy Desmond Lambert

Fr. Jeremy Desmond Lambert LC.
Fr. Jeremy Desmond Lambert LC.

Following a familiar voice

Looking back on the path God has brought me along until now, I can relate to the insight of the prophet when he wrote:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you. "Ah, Lord God!" I said, "I know not how to speak; I am too young." But the Lord answered me: Say not, "I am too young." To whomever I send you, you shall go; whatever I command you, you shall speak. Have no fear before them, because I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.” Jer 1:5-8

Whenever my family gets together and reminisces about life, we always end up marveling at the providence God has shown us. In my case, I consider my vocation to the Legionary Priesthood as his own initiative- something that came out of the blue. However, in hindsight it can be the only path meant for me. At the same time, the disposition of the soul to respond to such a call, in part, comes from the environment lived at home. The more a family is faith-centered and generous in responding to God’s plans, the more likely the ears of the soul will hear his call.

Growing up in a family of six children, there is never a dull moment. My parents moved down from Atlanta to a small textile town in middle Georgia when I was still an infant. We were a traditional southern family with strong principles, both human and religious. At the same time, there was a healthy joviality and spontaneity that made family time a pleasant priority. My father was a captain in the Marines Corps and received a purple heart in the battle of Hue City, Vietnam. As far back as I can remember, I was always outdoors. The house sat on the back of five acres on the outskirts of town. Behind our property, Georgia-Pacific owned 30,000 acres of timberland that naturally became ours to explore. Between hunting and fishing, I constantly found time to be alone in silence to contemplate nature and soon enough God started to make himself present in that silence. These experiences went hand in hand with an active social life, especially sports. I was also an active member of the Boy Scouts of America, something I consider very helpful for forming numerous human virtues.

When I was eleven years old, a tragic event marked my life, and made me aware that God has his protective hand over me. During an activity with my scout troop, I was caught up in some roughhousing and was pushed
Fr. Jeremy Desmond Lambert LC.
from behind. I fell up against a window and broke through it with my arm. The cuts on my forearm were severe and I began to lose blood profusely. At that moment, the training of the scouts kicked in and I was aided by my companions on all sides. Thanks be to God, the local emergency room was just blocks away and I arrived within five minutes. The only vascular surgeon in the region was on call that night in the hospital and was able to attend me right away. After three hours of surgery and two hundred and fifty stitches, the doctor told my mother that miraculous powers were at work. If I would have arrived only seconds later, I would have simply bled to death. This helped me to value my life and see that God must have a special plan for me.

The image of a priest was something always respected in my family. My parish, a small community of one hundred families, was attended to by the Redemptorist fathers. They were based out of a large city forty miles away, and came to celebrate Mass only on Sundays. This limited contact with the sacraments and pastoral guidance proved difficult for us to grow in our catholic identity. I received catechetical instruction primarily from my parents. Living in the Bible belt, I was constantly put to the test and called to witness to my beliefs. To say catholics were a minority is an understatement! In our middle school and highschool, there were around four thousand students; four of which were catholic. From a young age this awakened in me a spirit much like that of the early christians – a holy pride for my faith and a desire to know it better in order to defend it. 

In the summer of 2006, the Regnum Christi movement came into my family’s life. My older sister was visiting home after her first year of college and wanted to go on a spiritual retreat with my mom. They signed up for the only option offered by the dioceses - a three day Ignatius silent retreat two hours away, in Atlanta. Coming home, all they spoke about was the holy and dynamic priest that gave the retreat. They convinced my dad he had to sign up for the men’s session the following weekend. The next thing I knew, two Legionaries were coming for dinner. At the time, I was thirteen years old and recognized in these two priests an attractive way of life that appealed to all my aspirations. In my interior I faintly heard the first whisper of God’s call to leave everything and follow him. Their enthusiasm, charity, and zeal to build the Church made a deep impression on me.

Within a few weeks I started to receive invitations to participate in different activities with the ECYD group from Atlanta. At first I rejected all their invitations. With all the sports I was involved in, and the scouting activities I did not have any interest for another commitment. That all changed around Christmas when the Legionary priest invited me to a skiing trip in New Hampshire. That was the hook! What I found at the apostolic school won me over: over a hundred boys my age, living in a harmonious and healthy catholic environment.

A few months later I came back again to participate in the month-long summer program, at the end of which decided in spiritual direction that I should try out a year to see if this is what God was asking of me. For my parents, it was a step that required a lot of generosity on their part. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was difficult for them to let me go. I can imagine they saw how happy I was and the enthusiasm that I radiated.

In the gospel, Christ speaks of the different type of soil that receives the seed sown. For young people, the environment they live in and the example of virtue that they receive plays a big role in how they are prepared for that initial encounter with Christ’s call. The vocation can never be imposed on anyone; it comes as a subtle invitation by Christ. I can remember very clearly that first awakening of the call to the Legionary priesthood in my interior. I say awakening, because I see that invitation of Christ repeated everyday. It happened after the first month of joining the apostolic school. During a visit to the Eucharist, which was rather routine for us all, something urged me to stay longer than usual and pass up the opportunity to join my friends in recess. I must have been in the chapel for half an hour when I felt an interrogative come into focus in the depths of my heart: “Are you going to follow me as my Legionary priest, where ever I want you to go?”  There and then, I knew that my answer would mark the rest of my life. What Christ had planned for me would be the fulfillment of all my heart’s desires, even though it would not be always easy sailing. I told him, in the mentality of a thirteen year old boy, “Yes Lord, I will follow you.” Every day since then that yes has matured, and has taken on different dimensions. Nevertheless, it has always been the same familiar voice asking me the question.

Each year and subsequent stage of formation brought with it a new lesson and test to overcome. What has always brought me peace and encouragement is the spirit of family that envelopes the Legionaries. Sharing in the same ideals to build the Church and save souls; nourished by the same fountain of graces that Christ gives us in the sacraments and scripture; and living and abnegated, creative and authentic charity after the example of Christ bonds us all into a monolithic body of apostles. In this perspective, the difficult history we have inherited and the demands of the future evangelization of society as a congregation, give me a security that God must be guiding us with his loving hand. As in the story of my own life, I can only turn to him with gratitude and trust.

Fr. Jeremy Lambert was born on February 27, 1983 and raised in Thomaston, Georgia. He entered the apostolic school of the Legion of Christ in 1997 in New Hampshire. Upon graduating in 2001, he joined the Novitiate in Cheshire, Connecticut, where he studied and professed his first vows. After achieving a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy in Rome, he was assigned to an internship as assistant to the Instructor in the Novitiate of Cornwall, Ontario. After a two year period he returned to Rome to complete his studies in Philosophy and Theology, at the same time assisting in the personal secretariat of the General Director. He is currently assigned as personal assistant to the General Director.



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