Wednesday, August 23, 2006

"How do you know if God is calling you for a vocation?"

I will assume that this question, asked recently on the St. John's blog site, pertains to a vocation to priesthood or religious life. Check out this site to find the main ways to discern God's Call:

In addition, the following is a column written on April 24, 1994 by the late Msgr. Thomas Wells, who was tragically murdered six years ago in his Germantown rectory. This is taken from the book of Fr. Wells' writings, "From the Pastor's Desk".
"How did you know you wanted to be a priest?" How I dread hearing that question! I suppose it is sort of like asking someone, "How did you fall in love?" What does one say? It just happens; and in terms of priesthood or any religious vocation, each person's story is unique and individual. As I have thought about answering that question for myself, however, I think there are two important parts to the answer.

First of all, I confess that, by personality, I am a person who lives pretty much in the here and now. I am pretty good at responding to the crisis of today; much less good at planning for the future. I suppose no one has everything, so I'll have to live with who I am. At any rate, as I grew up, I pretty much lived day to day: from grade school to high school to college (never even got around to applying to college until February of my senior year). I was the type (I do not recommend this) who would get up at 5 a.m. to study for a test because I had put off studying until then.

The point is that I never gave much thought to vocation until my last year of college: I was just not that worried about the future (plus college was a lot of fun). But I think deep down, I always kind of knew that I would end up a priest. I never talked about it to anyone, I never even thought that much about it, but I think it was always there. In other words, God knew my personality and He just waited until I was ready to pay attention to His call.

The second, and much more important thing, has to do with the Eucharist. In a variety of ways that space does not permit me to describe here, God led me, through influences at home, in parish and in Catholic schools, to a real faith in and love for Christ present in the Eucharist. I truly believe that perhaps the greatest spiritual gift of my life is that God has allowed me to deeply believe in the power and strength that are in the Mass. Therefore, since the celebration of the Mass is so central to priesthood, I suppose it did not knock me to the ground in shock when I came to face the possibility that God wanted me to live my life as a priest.

I cannot, of course, speak with any authority about the call to be a sister - though this call, too, is one of service to and for the Church - but I can say, that for me, at least, the Eucharist is at the heart of the matter. I really believe that if we are a people who are centered on the Eucharistic Sacrifice, there will be no shortage of those willing to give their lives to the Church. And, so, perhaps, our prayers for vocations should begin with prayer that we become, ever more completely, a Eucharistic community."


At 8:45 AM, Blogger Searching For Holiness said...

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At 9:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

there will be no shortage of those willing to give their lives to the Church.

At 9:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry to have to tell you this but there is already major shortage of the priesthood and even worse the nunhood (is that a word?)

At 9:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are there fewer laborers in the vineyard? Perhaps.

The more important question: How can we make sure that young men & women discern a call to vocations? And if they find that they have a vocation, what can we do to support them?

1. Pray! Pray! Pray! - Check out just one of many prayers for vocations below. Or offer a rosary for vocations. Our Lady is the most powerful intercessor!

2. Support friends, family and parishioners who are or might be discerning a call to the priesthood or the religious life. In our culture, the priesthood & religious life (particularly celibacy) is a radical life change and one with many challenges. As Catholics we must do all that we can to support vocations and help them increase! (See also #1.)

Prayer for Vocations:

O Holy Spirit, Spirit of wisdom and divine love, impart Your knowledge, understanding, and counsel to youth that they may know the vocation wherein they can best serve God. Give them courage and strength to follow God's holy will. Guide their uncertain steps, strengthen their resolutions, shield their chastity, fashion their minds, conquer their hearts, and lead them to the vineyards where they will labor in God's holy service.

At 7:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are some widowers who become priests later in life after theri children have grown up. What is the maximum age a man or woman can decide to join the priesthood or convent and why is this age group not being tapped more for religious life?

At 8:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are the religious really celibate?

At 4:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have heard that some are and others are not.

At 2:29 PM, Blogger Fr Greg said...

Anon # 4 - in the Archdiocese of Washington, the maximum age for a man to enter seminary is 50. There are some exceptions to this, especially if the man has been a permanent deacon and widower. I'm not sure what the max. age is for women entering religious life.

There are some men who have been ordained here in Washington later in life, and they are producing great fruit as priests. Fr. George Wilkinson is one; he was here at St. Andrew's and was very much loved. We should pray that more men who are in the situation you described - older and widowed - and are called by God to become priests respond generously.

Anon #5, other than priests who are converts to the Church and are married, all Roman Catholic priests make the promise of celibacy. The same is true for all consecrated religious brothers and sisters, as far as I know.


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