Led by Trust in the Lord
January 2012 — Vol. 1, Issue 3
Fr. Jim Gallagher, C.S.C.
Why am I a Holy Cross priest? It is a question that I find myself answering often. It comes from the men that I work with as a vocation director, and it comes from people I meet who are curious about how someone comes to discover this calling.
I have found that the most concise and truthful answer to the question is articulated in the opening of the Constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross: “‘Come, follow me.’ It was the Lord Jesus calling” (1:1). I am a Holy Cross priest primarily because the Lord called me to this vocation.
While it is true, this explanation of my vocation tends to leave many interested in learning more about the details. Indeed, there are many details. This call from the Lord did not come in a moment, straight out of the blue. It came over time.
The beginning came when I was a young boy. In fourth grade I would have told anyone who asked that I was going to be a priest when I grew up. After a short while though, I stopped talking about it. But not talking about it did not get it out of my mind. The thought of a vocation to the priesthood would pop up again and again.
My best efforts to focus on other possibilities kept the notion of a priestly vocation at bay for several years. It was only after an undergraduate degree in engineering and a few years in the working world that I grew weary of ignoring the possibility and finally started to talk with a few people about it. The more I talked about it the more it seemed reasonable that entering the seminary would help me to discover if this thought was really a call.
I took the leap of faith and entered the seminary not positive that my call was to the priesthood but because I was finally ready to invest a few years of my life into figuring out if it was. I entered the Congregation of Holy Cross, a community that I had known since I was a young man. It was a community that looked like it would provide the structure and challenge that would help me to grow in God’s grace.
Entering the seminary wasn’t the answer to the question of whether I was called; it was the next step in opening up to the possibility. There were doubts and fears to face. I wasn’t the holiest guy; I wasn’t the smartest or most articulate. As I engaged the process and offered the questions and fears to the Lord, the answer would come back: “My grace is enough” (2 Cor 12:9).
As I progressed through the years in the seminary, the doubts and fears were peeled away and I was left with a confidence that the Lord was indeed calling me to serve as a priest. It did not come all at once, but over time, through prayer, conversation, study, service, and reflection. It came because I was willing to allow the Lord the time to work on me.
These are just a handful of the details of how I found my way to my vocation. Involved in each of those details though was the hand of the Lord. In each particular moment I was not always able to see the Lord at work. Yet as I look back on it, the hand of Providence stands out more and more. This is why I am able to come back around to the beginning and confidently state that I am a Holy Cross priest because the Lord called – patiently and persistently He called.
Only a few will hear the Lord’s call so clearly and boldly that there is no mistaking it. For the rest of us, we must continually open our lives to the possibilities that the Lord has in store for us ... trusting that He is at work in our lives and that He does know what He is doing.
Prayer from the Tradition
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