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Turn to Jesus (Article)

I Owe it to God and the Legion
God calls because he wants you to be happy looking for him and the marvelous plan that he has thought of for you.

P. Pierre Salabert
Father Pierre Salabert, LC

The first scene of this story takes place in a great room. The night was long and sleep was far from our minds. We went for the smoking while the girls went for the fancy dresses. A night full of contrasts. We began dinner at a luxurious hotel and we finished with breakfast at a small town diner. We met up at the Cathedral and we said good-bye at a local park. My friends stayed there living life as always while I left in search of what God was asking of me.

I left the feast to become a priest? I began telling you about a party because it shows where I was in my life, on the fence, living the life I wanted for myself yet looking at the “other side,” at what God wanted for me.

I said good-bye to my friends and went home, but only to pack and leave once again. I felt a great peace because I knew I was giving God the first place in my life. I wanted to look for his will, and even though it was tough I was really just following a call that, as you will soon see, I had experienced years before.

I knew the Legion very well. At twelve years of age I incorporated to ECYD, Education, Culture and Youth Development, forming a team with my friends. We were not the most exemplary members but ECYD did fill our lives: conventions, meetings, tournaments, apostolate, summer camps ... An endless array of activities where we sought to share our faith and do something good for others. We even had our own drama club and every year we would put on a show. We visited hospitals and orphanages, collected food, candy, toys and clothing for the less fortunate and organized games for younger kids. The youngest ones would always want to play “horsie.” They were the jockeys of course!

Where ECYD helped me the most was my friendship with our Lord Jesus Christ. Far from being just an idea or an historic personality Christ became a real friend. Someone who was always with me, helping me, listening to me and always ready to forgive me. He was THE friend I could always count on.

ECYD was the means that God placed in my path so that I could know him and afterwards discover his calling. It’s not that my vocation was born there; God just wanted to cultivate it there. Vocations just don’t appear out of nowhere like mushrooms. One is born with a vocation, better still, as the Holy Father teaches, every life is a vocation. God calls because he wants you to be happy looking for him and the marvelous plan that he has thought of for you.

How does one discover it? God presents it you little by little. In my case, he started with my family. Not because I had a relative who was a priest but because my parents taught us that God loved us and that we should respect and obey him. It is true that I “played Mass” when I was little but that does not give one a vocation to the priesthood. I also played as different super heroes. Besides I left the “hero world” behind when my “flying partner” broke his arm when he jumped before I did.

Following others helped me to “take off.” My cousin went to the seminary and I promised him that I would join him there the next year. Well, he left before the year was up so I couldn’t keep my promise, but the idea of going to the seminary and following God’s call was planted within me.

Time passed. When I was finishing high school I needed to decide what I wanted to do with my life. I thought that it would be childish to hold myself to that promise I made as a young boy, so I decided to look elsewhere. At the same time I was afraid of starting something that really wasn’t for me in the end, I avoided taking it seriously.

In my heart I knew that I was just deceiving myself and that shouldn’t just decide this all by myself but that I should ask God what his opinion was on the matter. So I decided to go to a retreat in the small town of Cotija de la Paz, Michoacan, Mexico. I spoke with my confessor and told God: Here I am, whatever you want me to do, dad or priest. Just help me to know what is your will.

The battle didn’t end there. It was time to become generous and see exactly what God was calling me to do. Prayer, spiritual direction, moments of doubt, interior struggles were all commonplace. I would always think: I want to go but what happens if it’s not for me ... then what? I was afraid of failure, of having to come back not having finished what I started. I didn’t want to end up like my “flying partner” spread out on the floor with a broken arm. I wanted to be certain, to be on solid ground instead of jumping and taking a risk.

God gave me a little push by means of a friend. An admirable member of the Regnum Christi Movement told me some of his personal experiences: “I tried as well and I have never regretted having answered God’s call. What I am, I owe to the Movement and the Legion. Go and give it a try. If you come back it is not a loss; on the contrary, the experience will only help you. Besides you will have the great satisfaction knowing that you answered God’s call.” The testimony of his happy and generous life really convinced me.

I decided to give a try that summer but the battle continued. Making the decision was only the beginning. I would have to leave my friends, my companions, teammates, parties ... Leaving my family was by far the most difficult. That was tough. It was difficult for them as well and that is why I am so grateful to them for making that sacrifice and for believing in God and in me. Their faith, which truly equals generosity, has made the ties of love so much stronger, deeper and more joyful between us.

The “yes” involves a marvelous plan of God that leaves plenty of room for freedom.

Father Pierre Salabert was born on April 25, 1970, in Aguascalientes, Mexico. He was a Regnum Christi member in that city when he entered the Legion in 1988. During his period of formation he lived in Brazil, Spain and Rome. While in the eternal city he studied Philosophy and Theology. He worked in the formation of young men in schools and minor seminaries within Mexico and Brazil and was ordained a priest on December 22, 2001. He is currently completing his master’s degree in moral theology in the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum College in Rome.



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