The experience of falling in love is overwhelming for anyone, but especially for a priest. When love erupts in a priest’s heart, he realizes everything he has worked for is put at risk – his ministry, reputation, the esteem of parishioners, other priests, his bishop and possibly family and friends. He risks losing his job, home, health insurance and, sadly in some dioceses, his retirement. On top of all this is the fear of spiritual condemnation by the Church who claims to wield the power of God himself. So, rather than romantic love being a treasured gift from God, it becomes a threat to a priest’s very survival and puts him in crisis. Even though they know this, most priests still yearn for a significant other with whom they can have a close, intimate relationship...PLEASE! Stop all this maudlin nonsense. Give it a rest. It's tedious and boring. There's this little tiny fact about human beings that has apparently slipped through the cracks and been lost from view: we have a tiny little faculty called a WILL. Yes, it often falls under the rubric of free will, or free choice, or volition. If human beings lacked the capacity of making a promise and keeping it by free will, then there would never have ever been such things as faithful marriages, which still exist, by the way, if not in the overwhelming abundance found in our grandparents' generation. "Falling in love" is a smokescreen for negligence in the exercise of one's free will. It's an excuse. A cop out. Everyone USED to understand this. It's insane that anyone should have to point it out today.
You can find the remainder of this article and other challenges priests face on this link: http://www.leavingthepriesthood.com/#anchor_186
It's no different with vows made by a seminarian when he becomes a priest than it is with a man or woman entering into holy matrimony. You make a promise because, as a human being, you are capable of exercising your will in remaining faithful to your promise. You refuse to allow yourself the narcissistic self-indulgence of "FALLING" in love with anyone or anything other than your vowed love. In matrimony, that means eschewing all others besides your spouse. In holy orders, that means eschewing all others besides Christ. This is half the problem with relationships these days: they're all-too-often based on mere feelings. "I've got to be true to my authentic FEELINGS, dear. I'm divorcing you." Or: "I've got to be true to my genuine inner self and how I really FEEL: I'm quitting the priesthood, getting laicized and getting married." PLEASE. This has about as much credibility as an Oprah or Dr. Phil show. Don't get any on me, please.
The language of "FALLING in love" tacitly exculpates the subject, implying that he's a passive victim of Cupid's arrow of romantic love, and therefore not responsible for what is happening. It conceals the fact that the subject who thus "FALLS in love" always at some point GIVES himself permission to partake in this self-indulgence of infatuation. "Falling" implies helplessness; but the subject is never entirely helpless. What was it that Chesterton said about falling? -- "There are many, many angles at which one can fall but only one angle at which one can stand straight." Standing clearly involves the will. One cannot fall asleep standing. But "falling" in love, like "falling" into sin, involves the will too. Otherwise our Lord could never have commanded us to love one another.
Are you a priest? Stand up and be a man. Semper fi means "always faithful." Are you a seminarian approaching your vows? Remember: this is nothing forced upon you. You are making a free choice. Weigh your options prayerfully, as I'm sure you are. And when you take your vows, remember the words of St. Thomas More in the words of Robert Bolt's dramatic representation of his life, A Man for All Seasons: "To take an oath is to hold our very self in our hands. If at this moment we open our hands and let it slip through like water we need not hope to find ourselves again."