James Joseph

St. Charles Borromeo Seminary
Pre-Theology I
The College of William & Mary
Our Lady of Hope Parish

What did you do prior to entering seminary?

I was the Latin and Religion teacher at Our Lady of Hope School.

What influenced your decision to apply for seminary entrance?

I am a convert to the Church as of Easter 2013. Reading G.K. Chesterton and some of the Church Fathers when I was in college and studying Church history led me to the realization that the Catholic Church was the true, historical Church founded by Christ while He was on earth. The truth has always been very important to me, just like history has always been my best way of understanding the world. I was fascinated early on by priesthood and sacrifice, as well as by the Mass and the Sacraments. After thinking of becoming a priest ever since then, I finally applied this past year.

Why do you want to be a priest?

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by stories, both fictional and historical. They explain so much that is true about the world. The story of Israel and of Our Lord’s life on earth is of course the greatest story ever told, and the priest not only gets to tell that story to the Church over and over again, but through standing in persona Christi in the Sacraments, he makes the stories real and present to us today. Bringing the true and one God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in His new covenant, as a participant in a special way in his 5,000-year old story is what attracts me most to the priesthood.

What are your favorite pastimes?

Reading, playing computer games, spending time with friends, discussing theology and history

What is your favorite quote?

“Suppose that a great commotion arises in the street about something, let us say a lamp-post, which many influential persons desire to pull down. A grey-clad monk, who is the spirit of the Middle Ages, is approached upon the matter, and begins to say, in the arid manner of the Schoolmen, "Let us first of all consider, my brethren, the value of Light. If Light be in itself good--" At this point he is somewhat excusably knocked down. All the people make a rush for the lamp-post, the lamp-post is down in ten minutes, and they go about congratulating each other on their unmediaeval practicality. But as things go on they do not work out so easily. Some people have pulled the lamp-post down because they wanted the electric light; some because they wanted old iron; some because they wanted darkness, because their deeds were evil. Some thought it not enough of a lamp-post, some too much; some acted because they wanted to smash municipal machinery; some because they wanted to smash something. And there is war in the night, no man knowing whom he strikes. So, gradually and inevitably, to-day, to-morrow, or the next day, there comes back the conviction that the monk was right after all, and that all depends on what is the philosophy of Light. Only what we might have discussed under the gas-lamp, we now must discuss in the dark.”   –G.K. Chesterton, Heretics (1905)

Who is your favorite Saint and why?

Pope St. Pius X. I chose him as my confirmation saint for several reasons. First, he was the pope who lowered the age of First Holy Communion to 7, and thus became a patron for those devoted to the Eucharist. He was also a major influence on the reform and renewal of the liturgy in the early 20th century and stood up for Church teaching against many modern errors of thought and morals. He was one of the only forces who tried to prevent the catastrophic First World War from starting in 1914, though he failed, and his sadness likely contributed to his death. When I first came into the Church, all of these aspects appealed to me, especially his love of the Mass. I did not grow up with the Mass, and when I finally understood what the Mass was – the unbloody renewal of the sacrifice of Calvary – I got the same love of the Mass myself through his prayers. I give thanks continually for the life and influence of my holy patron.

What advice would you give to a young man thinking about the seminary?

As soon as you feel that you might just have a call, do not be afraid to explore it actively outside the confines of your own mind. Talk to priests, ask your close friends and family, do a vocation retreat or event – whatever you feel comfortable with. Don’t leave a thought of a vocation in your mind, waiting for a certain sign of what you should do. The best way to discern is to discern actively, in the real world, by doing.

Any other facts about yourself that people might find interesting?

Favorite TV-show: Avatar: the Last Airbender
Favorite Book (Fiction): The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien/Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh
Favorite Book (Non-fiction): Orthodoxy, G.K. Chesterton
Fan of both Star Wars and Star Trek