HEAR HIS CALL!
Since the very beginning of time, God has called His children to greatness - to something particular and specific that will give Him glory and give us a share in His life. Over the millennia, He has called the young and old, the qualified and the inexperienced, the lowly and the mighty to play a unique role in salvation history. Some were asked by God to be prophets and carry a message to His people. Some were asked to lead the chosen people into freedom and safety. Some were called to teach nations an important lesson that would serve them throughout their lives. Regardless of the task, God didn't always call the most qualified, but He always qualified those whom He called.
Our own time is no different! God still continues to call young men to the priesthood to be heralds of His Gospel, ministers of the Sacraments of Christ's Church, mediators of God's mercy and teachers of God's truth.
Who are these future priests of the 21st century? The current men who are preparing for priesthood shed some light on the question. Some have been working as lawyers, some as teachers or owned their own businesses, some enter right out of high school or college. While varied and diverse in their backgrounds, there are common themes that run throughout their lives. They are indicative of those God has called - and continues to call. He relies on human beings to covey a life of grace and to prepare souls for heaven.
1. A love for the holy Catholic Church.
Those who our Lord is calling to serve as priests have a profound love for the Church and are men of fidelity. Their heroes include the saints of the Church, modern icons such as Saint Teresa of Calcutta, Saint Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.
2. An appreciation for the Sacraments.
As the main vehicle of Christ's grace in the world, Jesus instituted the seven Sacraments to give life and to give it in abundance. Those whom God is calling have appreciated and lived the sacramental life of the Church - faithfully attending Mass, receiving forgiveness in Confession, praying before our Eucharistic Lord in Adoration. All of this fuels a desire to administer these Sacraments to the faithful throughout the parishes in Vermont.
3. A desire for Truth.
Jesus called Himself "The Way, the Truth and the Life." In our desire for the Truth, we discover Jesus Christ and in discovering Jesus Christ, we discover who we really are and who we were created to be. Preparation for the priesthood builds upon a thorough theological education so the truth can be passed on in its splendor.
4. A desire to serve God and neighbor.
Moved with compassion and a desire to build the Kingdom of God, those to whom God calls to be priests are marked with a desire to serve rather than to be served. God calls caring men who have a real concern for others. They desire to live a life of brotherhood with their fellow priests where they challenge each other to live a selfless life that is not about them, but about God and others.
5. An appreciation for Sacrifice and the Gift of Celibacy.
Those God calls to serve as priests of Jesus Christ are able to see the beauty of celibacy as a sincere gift of self and a renunciation of the great good of marriage for the sake of the Kingdom. For those He calls, it is not seen as a burden, but as a source for pastoral charity. They believe in the Church's wisdom that since Jesus Christ was celibate and sacrificial, it only seems appropriate that His priests imitate the one true High Priest.
If God has implanted these qualities in your heart, then He may be calling you to serve Him and His Church as a priest. It's worth investigating and learning more about. If you sincerely want to do His Will in your life, then it is necessary to pursue those subtle indications that God could be calling you to be a priest of Jesus Christ. HEAR HIS CALL and respond with great generosity. You will embark on one of the greatest adventures the world has ever known - conforming your entire life to Jesus Christ the Eternal High Priest!
Where Do We Go From Here
A vocation is nothing other than a call from God. But, a vocation is also something that is fragile and demands our attention. In an age of noise and confusion, it is difficult to HEAR HIS CALL - but it is not impossible. Here are three important steps to take that enable us to hear the voice of God and prepare us to respond with generosity:
There is no better place to begin to explore this call than the place where we are alone with God - where we talk to Him and He talks to us. In prayer we open our hearts so that He can direct all our thoughts actions and inspirations.
Pray each and every day - at the beginning and end of the day, if possible. But also consider getting away to a seminary, retreat house or monastery for a weekend. These places of prayer will provide you with an atmosphere of quiet and peace that is necessary to have this important conversation.
2) Talk to someone.
No one can keep this question a secret forever. In fact, others may have already noticed some of these 'priestly qualities' and mentioned it to you. Maybe it was a family member, a friend or a priest and they are good people to listen to and ask for advice.
3) Speak with the Diocesan Director of Vocations.
Discernment is an important and difficult task and should not be attempted alone. Discerning a vocation will inevitably raise lots of questions – both spiritual and practical. Each Diocese appoints a Director of Vocations to help you find answers to these questions and develop a plan for the future.