What is a Vocation
A vocation is an initiative of love from the heart of God. He calls in a gentle and loving way and invites us to respond in freedom. Discerning a vocation to the priesthood takes time, prayer, reflection, patience and attentiveness to God’s action – undertaken with the assistance of others. It also takes courage to respond to the interior movements of the Holy Spirit.
Coming to know what God wants for us takes time. It is a process. Following God is not about a one-time experience. It is about becoming a friend of Christ and friendships take time. In the Gospels, Peter and Andrew, James and John left their nets and immediately followed Christ. While that is true, we must not forget that they had spent three years with Him. Even after spending that much time with Jesus, they still largely did not understand. The same is true for us today. God’s will becomes known to us over a period of time.
Keep in mind that it is important to learn to desire what God desires for you. Remaining true to this desire opens your heart to receive what God wants for you. Then, God himself will take care of you.
Discerning What is God’s Will for Your Life?
The process you will follow to answer this fundamental question is called discernment. Your vocation as a Christian will be the particular way you live the universal call to holiness. Through prayer, study, conversation with others and reflection, you will be able to discover God’s plan for you. What will be your path to Heaven?
As in the past, God is calling men today to serve as priests in the Catholic Church. Throughout history, many have been called to the priesthood. They have lived exemplary lives and have extended the mission of Jesus Christ around the world. There are many heroic stories to be told about priests in every age. Yet, today it is harder than in the past to discover God’s call. There are so many valuable ways that you can choose to live your life. There are so many distractions that make it hard to hear God’s voice. Discerning a vocation is a challenge, no doubt about it. It can be especially tough today because others, even parents and friends, may not be encouraging or supportive.
In the world of the Third Millennium, many are hungry to find greater meaning in life, eager to discover some purpose for their life. The life of a priest is focused on helping people address the deeper questions of life. Priests are needed today more than ever. Maybe God is calling you to be a priest? You will not know for sure unless you consider the possibility!
Many people think that once a man enters the seminary, that decision is final. But that is not the case. Discernment continues as he begins preparation for the priesthood. During this time a man enters into deeper prayer to consider if this is the vocation that God is calling him to.
Signs & Qualities
A vocation to the priesthood is countercultural. First of all, it is a response to the love of God in one’s life. Further, is a life of self-sacrifice that is aimed to restore and recover a love of God in the world. The signs in a man that indicate a possible vocation to the priesthood include the following:
- Love of God – You want to know and love and serve God wholeheartedly.
- Love of neighbour – You desire to bring God’s love and grace to the world for the salvation of souls.
- Attracted to the priesthood – Over time you develop an interior attraction to the priesthood. There is a certain sense of joy and peace when you contemplate yourself living as a priest.
- A willingness to serve the Lord as His priest – The willingness to be a priest is already an excellent sign that the Lord wants you to be a priest.
- A generous heart and a willingness to sacrifice.
- Human Requirements – You are physically, intellectually, and psychologically capable of living the priestly life.
If you are experiencing these things, there is a possibility that Christ is calling you to the priesthood. The National Vocations Office will be happy to answer any questions about the priesthood and to put you in contact with your local Diocesan Vocations Director, who will help you to discern.
People to Help you Discern
Discerning a call to priesthood cannot be done alone. It is important that you speak with somebody who is trained to facilitate you at this initial stage. Vocations Directors are appointed by the Bishop to enable men explore and reflect on their sense of being called to diocesan priesthood. Making initial contact with a Vocations Director is not a commitment to study for the priesthood. It should be seen as you creating a space where you can explore and reflect on your sense of being called.
Each diocese in Ireland has a Vocations Director who will accompany the candidate, not only through discernment and selection, but also throughout priestly formation up to ordination. The Vocations Director is somebody who is trained in the process of discernment and in accompanying a candidate through a discernment process. The Vocations Director facilitates the process keeping all parties informed at the different stages. Your Vocations Director role includes:
- Advises the Bishop about you and your discernment journey.
- He will be responsible for guiding you through the selection process.
- He normally co-ordinates each stage of the process, ensuring that you are fully aware of what is expected of you.
- During the formal selection process, he will provide you with information about how your application is progressing.
Throughout this process both the candidate and the diocese have full freedom to delay, or halt the process at any stage and this must be respected by all parties. It is important to stress at the outset that the selection process takes place within the context of mutual vocational discernment and that non-acceptance of a candidate is not viewed as the candidate having ‘failed’.
The Spiritual Director
Your spiritual life should obviously be at the centre of your discernment. For this reason you would be encouraged to meet regularly with a Spiritual Director, possibly chosen from a number recommended by the Diocese.
Spiritual Direction provides a confidential space where you can discuss and reflect on your sense of vocation.
Being engaged in Spiritual Direction should also enable you to enrich and deepen your spiritual life. It also gives you a space to explore the spirituality of diocesan priesthood. It is hoped that by engaging in Spiritual Direction you will be facilitated to grow in awareness as to where God is calling you in life.
For Prayers and suggested scripture to help you in your discernment, click here