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Turn to Jesus (Article)

The Music that You Hear on the Inside
God wanted me to listen to a song with a refrain that said: "come and follow me."

Ordenación diciembre 2001
Father José Ignacio Martín, LC, on the day of his ordination in Rome December 22, 2001.
I have been a music fan for as long as I can remember. I could go so far as to say that I couldn´t live without it. I used to visit radio stations to see how they broadcast their programs and everything. I knew all the top songs by heart ...

But God wanted me to listen to a song with a refrain that said: "come and follow me." It all began at a parish retreat when my pastor, Father Luis, asked me whether I had thought about what I would say when God called me by my name. The question really left me wondering.

In 1986 that question made itself present again alongside the star of Bethlehem. Together with the rest of my parish´s youth group we founded the Asociación Belenista de Cantabria (The Bethlehem Association of Cantabria, Spain). Our objective was to renew the local Christmas traditions: manger-building contests, Christmas caroling, art displays, encouraging families to decorate their homes, Masses for children, giving presents on January 6th, the feast of the Epiphany, and an endless array of other activities that helped remind me exactly what Christ had done for me.

Seeing so many families going to Church to pray before Baby Jesus was a beautiful melody of God´s love that truly stirred my soul.

At the same time, Father Luis invited me to be a part of the parish group entitled VIRTUS. We took on a number of commitments such as morning and evening prayers, visiting Christ in the Eucharist, weekly meetings, frequenting the Sacraments and participating in apostolates. In addition to this I would get together with Father every week where "together" we would translate my Latin assignments. He would teach me a ton about our faith, the doctrine of the Church, etc. I was thrilled because he would be translating Julius Caesar´s wars and such for me.

And the music continued. One Tuesday afternoon I was overjoyed because the teacher of the last period of the day didn´t show up. So I went to Mass - it was the first time I had ever been to Mass during the week - and our weekly meeting followed immediately after. Being that no one was helping Father during Mass, I went up to be the acolyte. Later when we were in the sacristy, I heard Father Luis tell a visiting religious, Brother Arturo Diaz, LC, that I was interested in going to visit the seminary in Salamanca. Brother Arturo was in town visiting some priests who were friends of his.

I didn´t know who had written the song but the refrain was quite clear: come and follow me. I went to the Novitiate of the Legion of Christ in Salamanca in January of the year 1987. That weekend I experienced two opposing contrasts: the cold snow on the outside and warmth of the joy and happiness radiating from each one of the Brother Novices.

During Holy Week of that year I went on a retreat and there I decided to change the direction of my life. I would spend that summer at the Novitiate to see if that was for me.

But obstacles were right around the corner. That April I was offered a job as a disc jockey at a dance club in Santander. I took it even though that would really put my possible vocation in danger. In the end I prayed the rosary every day on my way to work and every day I asked the Blessed Mother to help me. The Candidacy was coming up in July and I still had to tell them that I was coming.

Around that time I spoke with a friend, who later also became a priest, about my vocation. He told me that the only help he could offer were his prayers because that decision was between God and myself. On July 6th at 4:00 AM I left the dance club and four hours later was on my way to Salamanca for the Candidacy.

Up until this point I had not said anything about my vocation to my family. When I was little, they taught me the faith, and now that I had to tell them that I wanted to become a priest, they taught me to live this faith. Even though my father had cancer (I was the only one who didn´t know) they never tried to have me stay at home but rather they offered their unconditional support motivating me to follow God´s call. They were constantly encouraging me and a few months later when my father passed away my mother was still right there cheering me on, even though she was suffering all the while. That day I heard the voice again: come and follow me. Right then and there I renewed my decision to follow Christ till my death because I sensed that my father had offered up his pain and sufferings so that his son would be a faithful priest.

Today, my immediate family, my Legionary family and my family the Church, are teaching me many other songs. My favorite is now: be faithful until death.

Father José Ignacio Martín, LC, was born in Salamanca, Spain on August 18, 1969. He entered the Legion of Christ in 1987 after finishing his high school studies in Santander, Spain. He did his Novitiate in Dublin, Ireland and did apostolic work in Guadalajara (México) as a business administrator and youth coordinator at the Cumbres Institute. He studied philosophy and theology at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum.

(August 18, 2003)


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