There are points in our lives where we make decisions that are literally life-changing, or at least life-determining.
Young people are in the thick of that kind of decision-making. But these moments can occur at any point in our lives, not just when we are young.
It may take many years to make the decision, or it may be made in an instant and acted upon immediately.
This is what happens when we are trying to work out the shape of our lives, where we fit, what our vocation in life might be. In Christus Vivit Pope Francis gives us a framework for our thinking about our vocation:
“When seeking to discern our own vocation, there are certain questions we ought to ask. We should not start with wondering where we could make more money, or achieve greater recognition and social status. Nor even by asking what kind of work would be most pleasing to us. If we are not to go astray, we need a different starting point. We need to ask: Do I know myself, quite apart from my illusions and emotions? Do I know what brings joy or sorrow to my heart? What are my strengths and weaknesses? These questions immediately give rise to others: How can I serve people better and prove most helpful to our world and to the Church? What is my real place in this world? What can I offer to society? Even more realistic questions then follow: Do I have the abilities needed to offer this kind of service? Could I develop those abilities?” Christus Vivit 285
The decisions we make about our vocation can seem to be risky, and perhaps the decision may necessitate going against what parents or others want us to do. But God also has a plan for us, and whatever the family opposition and our own doubts, his plan can be trusted.
“I want you to know that, when the Lord thinks of each of you and what he wants to give you, he sees you as his close friend. And if he plans to grant you a grace, a charism that will help you live to the full and become someone who benefits others, someone who leaves a mark in life, it will surely be a gift that will bring you more joy and excitement than anything else in this world. Not because that gift will be rare or extraordinary, but because it will perfectly fit you. It will be a perfect fit for your entire life.” Christus Vivit 288
But God’s plans always go so far beyond our imagining and so deep into who we are, that there is always risk. Pope Francis continues:
“A vocation, while a gift, will undoubtedly also be demanding. God’s gifts are interactive; to enjoy them we have to be ready to take risks. Yet the demands they make are not an obligation imposed from without, but an incentive to let that gift grow and develop, and then become a gift for others. When the Lord awakens a vocation, he thinks not only of what you already are, but of what you will one day be, in his company and in that of others.” Christus Vivit 289
If there is the thought in your heart that God might be asking you to consider priesthood, what do you do? Too hard to talk about it with friends, too risky with family, thoughts too unformed and too scary to table anywhere?
In a meeting with Pope Francis the bishop of San Bernardo in Chile asked the Holy Father, “What would you say to a young person who at this moment feels a vocation to the priesthood or religious life?” The Pope’s answer was simple, “that young person should allow himself to be gazed at by Jesus. Jesus is the one who calls, not the priest, nor the bishop or the Pope. It is Jesus who gazes at him with love, who shows him the people, who shows him the needs of the people of God and says, ‘if you wish, come help.’”
This is the starting point, and it may be the place where you stay for a while, looking at Jesus and becoming aware of the needs of God’s people.
There is nothing like Scripture to help us become close to Jesus. Listen to what Cardinal John Dew has to say about the impact of Scripture on his life. You will find that certain verses will come to be guiding lights as you think about your future.
After a time (or even right away) you may like to talk about priesthood. You can do this with Fr David Dowling (021 174 4248, firstname.lastname@example.org) who is the Vocations Director for the Archdiocese of Wellington. No pressure, just accompaniment as you discern where the Lord is leading you. If you would like to know more about priesthood visit our website http://www.wellingtonpriests.org/