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Turn to Jesus (Article)

So, Where’s the Problem?
Father Omar Ramírez Díaz, LC (México)

P. Omar Ramírez Díaz , L.C.
Fr. Omar Ramírez Díaz , LC

The memories of my childhood are full of fun and games, adventures with my brothers, and a good many fights.  In my family we are 6 boys, and I am the fourth.  Sometimes we played soccer or football in the house.  Everything finished when some house decoration went flying or we heard something breaking.  Add to all this the company of my cousins, with whom we spent a lot of time!  As you can imagine, I grew up in a great family atmosphere, always playing, always active.  My parents brought us to Mass every Sunday without fail.  We went to religious education on Saturdays as well; and in the summer, we went every day.

Whom do you love more: God or me?
Once I had a conversation with my dad which is deeply engraved in my memory.  I don’t remember exactly when it happened.  I must have been 9 or 10 years old.  All that I remember is that I was playing on the floor in my room, when my father arrived and asked me: “Omar, whom do you love more: God or me?”

No question, even in the most difficult exam in my life, has cost me more to answer. What could I answer?  He was my dad and for me there was nobody greater than him; there was no one else whom I admire more.  But, I had learned in religion class that we should love God above all things. In my confusion, I chose the middle ground and answered: “I love you both the same…”

But my dad told me: “No, you must love God more.”  And saying this, he let me continue playing.  This marked me forever and has been a lesson which has helped me give God his place in my life in the most important times.

From a rebel to a missionary
I remember my first act of rebellion as an adolescent.  A year after I had made my first communion, my brother and I started getting tired of going to religion class in the summer.  We nagged mom so much that she finally gave in.

From that moment, my faith started to cool off little by little.  I didn’t pray everyday like I had before.  I was bored to go to Mass every Sunday and I didn’t understand why I had to go.  It was the time of high school, of adolescence, and I could not even put up with myself.

Thanks be to God, I had a great friend in high school who helped me a lot.  He and his family gave me a great witness of Christian life and invited me to participate in a group of the Charismatic Renewal.  I went with him to several spiritual retreats and had a great time, in such a joyful and youthful environment.

At the end of my first year of high school my faith was rekindled.  From my childhood the idea was fixed in me that God was the greatest in my life, but this didn’t mean anything for
P. Omar Ramírez Díaz , L.C.
me practically.

One evening I was speaking with my cousins.  They were telling me that they had just gone on a mission the last weekend in the mountains of Michoacán; they had gone with some friendly Spanish priests. I really liked the idea and asked them to invite me the next time there was a mission.  These were the first groups of what would later become Youth for the Third Millennium.  Next year I went on the first mission that I could and was captivated.  I felt that I could help others in their faith and at the same time came home with the sense that I had received so much more than I had given.  Since then I promoted the mission so that other youths would help us.

And why not give your life for them?
It is here that God began calling me strongly.  We went on another mission.  In these missions, Saturday was the most intense day.  In the morning we went from door to door greeting the families, sharing our faith with them, telling them the Sunday Mass schedule, and inviting the children to the activities in the afternoon.  It was on these missions that I met Father Juan Pedro Oriol.  We quickly became friends because of his joy and priestly spirit in all that he did.

I remember that it was a Saturday, already late.  I was tired and thoughtful.  We had only been able to visit half of the homes in that town.  I was thinking how all the rest would have to go without having heard about God.  In my heart I told God:  “Who is going to knock on the doors of all the rest to bring them closer to you?” 

And immediately I heard the answer:  “And why not give your life for them?”  At that moment I was confused and was very much afraid; I tried to forget those thoughts as quickly as possible.

Helping others was a joy for me.  But I was also at that age where I began to have fun on a big scale.  My friends and I began going to sweet sixteen parties and making new friends.  Sometimes we went to three parties in one weekend.  I began to play the guitar and I wanted to start a rock band.  On Sundays we had a youth Mass at Saint Xavier of the Hills with over 500 people.  Every Monday, Father Juan Pedro gave us a talk or we had a debate on some theme; these activities helped me a lot.  With some friends from the missions, we started a Regnum Christi team and the first team leader was Jose Antonio Guzman, my cousin (he is a Legionary now as well).

Amidst so much activity, the idea of giving my life had been nearly extinguished, but the Lord decided to rekindle it even more strongly.  In a Mass celebrated by Father Juan Pedro, those who were in the choir were at one side of the altar.  At the moment of the consecration, the most solemn moment in the Mass, I asked myself how it was that a man brought Christ down from heaven to the altar. At another time, I heard the answer: “You also are a man!  Why not be a priest?”

Again I tried to drive these thoughts from my mind as if they were things that didn’t concern me.  The priesthood, for me, no.  Maybe yes for one of my friends who were much better than me.

My problem was that God was calling me
When I finished my second year of high school I began to start my rock band; we were only three and in the beginning I had to borrow an electric guitar… I went out with my friends as much as possible and went mountain biking a lot.  Also, Father Juan Pedro had asked my friends and me to help support the youth group at Saint Xavier.  Father believed that we could do much more and set higher goals for us every time.

And so my last year of high school began.  I liked that my week was full.  On Mondays we had talks with Father Juan Pedro.  Tuesdays and Saturdays we had band practice.  Tuesday evenings we had Regnum Christi meetings.  Fridays and Saturdays: we went to some parties (we liked to go most when we weren’t invited).  On Saturdays at 8:00 in the morning I began to go to rural zone outside of Guadalajara with a program called Let us share to give basic classes to adults; and on the way home we passed by an orphanage which some nuns ran;  there we organized games for the orphan girls.

In the November of 1993 I went on several missions.  I encountered the same spirit of self-giving and joy among the missionaries.  In my interior the call of God to follow him and give my life for others was rekindled.  Again those profound reflections began.  I started to suspect that God had something to do with it.

But these possibilities clashed with “my happiness" at that moment.  I was excited about being involved in so many things and about living the high life.  But at the same time I realized that what I did only made sense if it was God’s will for me.

I felt that my biggest problem was that God was calling me to be a priest.  So I decided to tell “my problems” to Father Juan Pedro, in whom I saw a holy priest who wanted to bring God to everyone and a good friend.  The funniest thing about our conversation was that Father didn’t see where the “problem” was; so he invited me to visit the Legionary novitiate in Monterrey.
I went to Monterrey and I was impressed.  All of difficulties disappeared upon seeing the joy of so many young men like me following God’s call.  And they had a good band and were great soccer players!  All of the obstacles fell during my three day visit.  Upon returning home to Guadalajara I had already decided to go to the Candidacy.  But it’s one thing to say you are decided…

Let God redirect your life
Those six months were very intense and helped me to go deeper into what it meant to have a vocation.  My life continued to be intense as I wanted; above all I enjoyed the company of my friends with whom I was able to share my faith and to speak about God.  We continued to party, to play music, all with our spirit.

At this intensity God began to demand his true price.  When there were two months left until summer, everything began to cost me: the idea of leaving my friends, the mission, my family, having to sell my electric guitar… As some say, I began to get wrapped up in my bellybutton instead of appreciating what God was placing in my hands.  There were high and low, tense and easy moments…  “This hurts…!”  I told myself.  I knew that I did many things to feel happy and fulfilled, and that they were good things, but I had a conviction about the vocation that helped me not to get lost on the way: “I didn’t choose my vocation. If I am going to follow it, it is because it comes from God.”  This was a short period, but very helpful for me to let God take full possession of my life, as my friend and Lord.

Upon surrendering my life and following his call, I saw how everything, each friendship, each desire took on a new light.  I saw that God’s plan was much bigger than I could ever imagine: to grow in my friendship with him, which began in my heart as a child, and to be his instrument, giving my life for every person whom I had known before and after God’s call.

Father Omar Ramirez Diaz was born in Guadalajara, Mexico on December 27, 1976.  Upon finishing high school he entered the Legion of Christ.  He did his novitiate in Monterrey, Mexico and his Humanities in Salamanca, Spain.  He studied philosophy in New York and in the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum College, in Rome, where he also studied theology.  He was part of the team of formators in one of the Legion’s minor seminaries in Brazil.  In Spain he was the prefect of discipline in the Cumbres of Valencia.  Now he is studying for his license in theology in Rome.


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



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