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Turn to Jesus (Article)

"Everything Suddenly Became Simple and Clear"
I wanted to offer my life so that others would have the joy of seeing God face to face in Heaven.

When I was sixteen years old I had an awful time trying to get to sleep at night being that I had so many ideas rumbling around in my head. Sometimes it took me two to three hours to finally hit the hay. One of those "long" nights a thought struck me by surprise, "Why don´t you pray? Maybe an Our Father?"

In 1987, around Easter, an aunt of mine invited me to accompany her to Mass. I was happy to go with her even though I didn´t see myself as the "pious type." When it was time to receive Communion she asked me why I wasn´t going up to receive. I knew I wasn´t prepared for it.

I don´t know exactly why but this is where it all started. And being that I am not a person to do things halfway I decided to totally change my life. From that moment on I began going to daily Mass. I would get up an hour earlier to be at seven o´clock Mass. I bought a New Testament and that was the first thing in hand when I left in the morning. I strengthened my sacramental life but I decided to defer receiving Communion until Easter 1988 so I could truly prepare myself for an entire year.

With this sudden burst of religious fervor, which wasn´t brought on by anyone but God and myself, I also thought of how I could combine my Catholic faith and my future profession. One day I saw a poster at my parish. It was of the Franciscans and it read: "Do you like friendships, fraternity and simplicity?" Being that I liked all three I called and went to visit a small Franciscan community in Bavaria, about two hours from Munich. I simply loved it and I really thought that the religious life was for me, but I still had one year of school left.

This period of my life also featured a number of difficulties, both internal and external, because many of those around me didn´t like the idea of my decision to draw closer to God. One of the first consequences was that I lost almost all my friends -- well, let´s call them acquaintances -- and it took a while to get in with a group of new friends with whom I could share my faith. This was particularly painful. Most of the time people would just react with indifference, but at times I was faced with open hostility and it wasn´t always easy to accept these humiliations with Christian charity and humility. There were a few moments when some tears would escape my eyes when the resistance was especially cruel.

I also met a girl I really liked. The two of us thought the same way about things. But at the same time I felt called to the religious life. All of these elements: resistance, girlfriend, priesthood, etc., made for a state of confusion not easy to digest.

Right in the middle of all this I met a Legionary priest. I opened my heart to him and he invited me to spend some time in quiet reflection at the Legionaries´ formation center in Rome. This was July of 1989. I had just finished high school a month before and I still had no idea what to do. I was still wrapped in confusion.

I talked this over with Susanne -- my girlfriend -- and we decided to both go and reflect on our lives before God. So off I was to Rome.

The two weeks I spent in Rome were, quite frankly, very difficult. I was totally divided on the inside. So I decided to write something like a diary to help me sort out my thoughts as I jotted down my reactions and motivations. Finally on the last day of my visit I began to see things clearly: what is worth more, eternal life or life here on earth? Eternal life, of course. So if you want to make others happy, you should focus on their eternal happiness. What is the best way to do this? The priesthood. Everything was suddenly so simple and clear, for me at least, but not so for Susanne. When I got home the first thing I did was go and visit her. She had come to the conclusion that she truly was in love with me. So how was I going to explain ...? Without saying much I handed her the twenty pages of my "diary" and had her read while I waited. When she had finished she said, "This is the first time that I can conscientiously offer a true sacrifice to God." What a noble answer! My admiration and respect for her grew but I stuck to my decision. So we separated.

Now why did I decide to enter the Legion of Christ? I knew that God had called me to the priesthood but I felt that "click" in my heart only after I met the Legionaries. One element that really impressed me was the exquisite charity with which the Legionary religious treated each other.

Today, after twelve years of formation, I am very grateful to God for having led me through circumstances that were anything but easy for my faith and my vocation. My deepest conviction has not changed: I wanted to offer my life so that others would have the joy of seeing God face to face in Heaven. Two questions have helped me along the way: What else can I do for God? And what is the most important thing in this life? I have always tried to honestly answer these questions before God, my neighbors and myself.

By the way, Susanne, during the Jubilee year, after a number of years as a nurse, decided to consecrate herself to God in the religious life as well. God has his ways.

Father Dirk Kurt Kranz, LC, is from Bensheim, Germany, where he was born on November 3rd 1969. He graduated from high school at the Altes Kurfürstliches Gymnasium in Bensheim, specializing in classics, in June of 1989. He entered the Legion of Christ that same year. In 1998 he received his license in philosophy from the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum in Rome, Italy. He was a classical languages professor at the Legion´s centers of formation in Germany, the United States and Italy for a number of years and is currently studying patristics at the Augustinian Institute in Rome.

(September 12, 2003)


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