Into Your Hands I Commend My Spirit
Well before I entered the seminary I had the thought that maybe God was calling me to the priesthood. Yet it took me some time before I responded to that thought. I held back because while it may have been something that God wanted for me, it was not something that I wanted. I had my own thoughts and plans for my life. As long as there was a conflict in desire between what God wanted and what I wanted, there was a struggle which caused me to hesitate and hold back. In the end I did follow the call, but it was almost as a last resort. Once I had made sure a few other things were not for me, then I was willing to give the seminary a chance.
What I have learned to see so clearly now, that I failed to see then, is that God was calling because He knew more about me than I knew about myself. The Lord knew what I was made for and where I would find the joy and purpose that I longed for. I had dreams regarding what I might do with my life – He knew what could be made of my life and the great good that could come of it. I put the priesthood and religious life as a last resort because all I could see was the challenge and sacrifice it would require. Yet the Lord was calling not because he wanted to see if I would sacrifice it all, but because of the good that He had in store for me and for others through me.
As a Director of Vocations I have encountered many men who have sensed that same call and have displayed that same inclination to leave it as the last resort for what they may do with their life. They are intimidated about what it might ask of them to pursue this sense of call to priesthood or religious life. They will go if it becomes abundantly clear that they are being called, but their inclination is to try a few other things to make sure their call is not to something else.
The call to religious life and priesthood can be an intimidating call as it does lead away from the norm of family life and career. It seems to ask a greater level of commitment than what is being asked of others. It requires one to place a great deal of trust in the Lord.
Yet if there is anyone worthy of a great deal of trust, it is the Lord. Looking through scripture and through the lives of the saints, one can clearly see that the Lord was the one who always remained faithful and always saw His people through to the great good He was leading them to. This past weekend, as we celebrated the great saving mystery of the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus. We saw how faithful God is to us and how far He will go to serve our good. The One who did not abandon or lead His Son astray will not lead us wrong. He will see us through to fullness of life, if only we trust and follow.
This coming weekend we will celebrate the Ordination of six new Holy Cross priests. These six men placed their trust in the Lord and followed the sense of call that they were feeling. They have found more than they ever expected. They have entered into the life that will draw them into the great joy they long for. They put their trust in the Lord and will not be let down.
There are times when I look back at my hesitation before the seminary and I see how foolish it was to doubt the good the Lord was leading me to. I would never have dreamed what my life would become, the places it would lead me, and the graces that I would experience along the way. The Lord was calling because He loved me and desired my great good. I hesitated and looked to other options because I could not see this great love – I doubted that the Lord knew what he was doing. I was a fool to doubt – the Lord has remained faithful and there has been nothing but good that has come from placing my trust in Him and following wherever He might lead.
Trust in the Lord, seek His call and you will not be disappointed.
Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia:
For the Son whom you merited to bear, alleluia,
Has risen, as he said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.
Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia.
Because the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.
Let us pray. O God, who by the Resurrection of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, has given joy to the whole world, grant, we beseech you, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, his Mother, we may attain the joys of eternal life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.