Christ is Inviting You
What do you do with that thought that pops up from time to time about the possibility of a vocation to be a priest or brother? How do you respond to the notion that maybe you are called to serve the Church in a more explicit way, or that you might be called to give even more of yourself to following after Christ?
Perhaps there are also thoughts about marriage and family life. Or there are thoughts about a good job that will support a family, or a profession that will allow you to use skills and gifts for the good of others. What about going and living a ‘normal life’?
What do you do with those thoughts about a vocation to religious life or the priesthood? Does it mean that you should drop everything and head for the seminary or nearest religious house? What about the other thoughts? How should you weigh them all, and know which to follow?
The reality is that most people do have a range of different thoughts about what path they should pursue or how it is that Christ may be inviting them to follow. Many times those thoughts can seem to conflict with one another, and they come and go. So it really would be unwise to drop everything and head off in a direction because of one thought or one moment of clarity. If we did, we would likely head in a different direction every other day, if not every other hour.
Pay attention to them. Give them thought and consideration. To have a thought about consecrating your life to Christ does not necessarily mean that Christ is inviting you to go and become a priest or brother. But it does mean that Christ is inviting you to spend some time considering the possibility.
All too often the reaction to the fleeting thoughts of a vocation to the priesthood or religious life is to try to ignore it and hope it goes away. We all want to be normal—and the consecrated life is definitely not "normal." It is not unusual to hope that the thought is more of a fleeting whim than a reality, but there is no way to know unless you really take a long, prayerful, and considerate look at the possibility. To have that fleeting thought, especially if it keeps coming back, is an invitation from Christ to look into the possibility that He is calling you to consecrate your life to him.
Many men hesitate to take a long look at the possibility of a vocation to the priesthood and religious life because of the fear that if they look, it may be real. To look is to start in on the slippery slope that will lead to vows and Ordination. Yet the reality is that there are many men who go on discernment retreats, talk to vocation directors, visit seminaries, and even go to the seminary, who do not end up as a priest or brother. What they do tend to end up with is a clearer sense of God’s call and a greater confidence in following the Lord’s lead—which are both pretty great things.
Yes, there are those who pick up the phone to talk to a vocation director and then go to visit the seminary, which leads to a whole chain reaction moving them to Final Vows and Ordination. But that is good, because they have found God’s call and have answered it with confidence. They have learned to freely follow Christ, who always leads us to our deepest joy—which is a really great thing.
If the thought of a possible vocation continues to come into your mind—pursue it.
Christ is inviting you to look deeper into this possibility; He is inviting you to deliberately open your heart more fully to His lead. Better than anyone—even yourself—He knows what it is that you are longing for, and will lead you to it. Pursue these thoughts one step at a time and see where they lead. You do not need to know where the journey will lead when you start out on it. When you step out to pursue Christ and His call to you, you will find the joy and life that you long for. Indeed, you will find more than you ever imagined you could find in this life.
What do you do with that thought that pops up from time to time about a possible vocation to the religious life or priesthood? Do something about it. Talk to someone about it. Spend some time really looking at it, praying about it, and considering it. Bring it to the light of day and see what happens. What is the worst that could happen? You just might discover Christ’s call and enter into His joy.
Reflection on the prophet Simeon
Simeon stood in the shadow of the temple gate, dim eyes dancing with expectation. He should have died long ago, this bearded ancient. But hope had tethered his soul; God had promised him sight of the Christ. Crowds passed him by; then he saw Joseph, and Mary holding Jesus. Common folk they were and the child like any other—as common as bread and wine. But Simeon stepped forward into the sunlight; his eyes had seen his salvation.
The Holy Spirit led Simeon to the temple and showed him God as a Child. My faith, too, is God’s doing. God will lead me to see Jesus in others.
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