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
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.
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
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.
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)