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Discernment2017-09-01T12:32:54+00:00

Is God Calling Me?

All answers begin with asking the right questions; it is the same with vocation discernment. Here are five smaller questions you can consider to help you answer the greater question, “Lord, are you calling me to be a priest?”

1. Do I have a desire to become a priest?
If Jesus has placed that desire in your heart, don’t ignore it — no matter your age! Chat up a priest you trust about how you feel, and listen to what the Spirit might lead him to say.

2. Do I love Christ and His Church?
Every priest functions in persona Christi capitas — that is in the person of Christ, the Head of the Church.  As such, a priestly candidate must love Jesus Christ above all else.  And just like Jesus, he should also love the Church, His Bride. Generally, a man who aspires to the priesthood will find himself drawn to the teachings of the Church and to all things Catholic.

Mundelein Seminary prepares candidates for the diocesan priesthood and provides initial, post-graduate or ongoing formation for priests and those who collaborate with them in ministry.

3. Do people say I’ll make a good priest?
From time to time, the people of God may recognise a “priest’s heart” in a young man and say to him, “Have you ever thought of being a priest? I think you’d make a good one!” Many young men recount how annoyed they were of these comments — but they eventually nudged them to the seminary.

4. Do I desire a life of virtue and prayer?
Pope Emeritus Benedict said that people expect priests to be experts in nothing but the spiritual life. As such, a good candidate for priesthood should attend Mass and make Confession frequently, pray regularly, serve the community, and strive to grow spiritually.

5. Do I want to help others grow closer to Christ?
The mission of every priest is to bring Jesus to the faithful and the faithful to Jesus. For this reason, a priestly candidate must have a passion for souls. He endeavours to help the people of God grow in holiness. He is eager to teach them the truths of the faith. He yearns to reach out to them in their times of difficulty to minister them God’s mercy. Their salvation is his goal.

If you’ve considered the priesthood but don’t have all of these signs and qualities yet, do not despair! All of us are called to holiness. What’s more, future priests will go through a long and intensive formation period, so that they can grow in virtue and be more effective ministers of God’s love.

How Will I Know?

Most of us who have ever questioned if the priesthood was for us must have asked: “How will I know if God is calling me?”

You’re not alone.

Before the rainbow shone in the sky, Noah must’ve wondered, “How will I know?” Before John the Baptist sent his disciples from his prison cell to find Jesus he must’ve asked, “How will I know?” When Thomas heard from the disciples that Jesus rose from the dead, he must’ve struggled with the question, “How will I know?”

In times past, God has revealed His will to individuals through signs, and He continues to give you signs today. Here are four general signs that you may be called to the priesthood.

Bishop Robert Barron answers questions to “How Should I Discern The Priesthood?” 

Availability and Openness

  • Am I open to whatever God may call me to?
  • Am I disposed and free to respond to that call?

Desire

  • Do I sense a degree of potential satisfaction, hope, or joy when I consider living as a priest?
  • If God calls me to the priesthood, do I trust that it can be fulfilled?

Proper Motivation

  • Is my primary motivation of a spiritual nature, such as serving and loving the Lord and His people?
  • Will I experience adequate happiness and fulfillment in this vocation?

General Disposition

  • Do I have reasonably good health, emotional stability, social ease, and spiritual-centeredness?

To make challenging decisions is a responsibility that God entrusts to all adult Christians. It requires time, prayer, and much discernment. But motivated by love for God, vocation discernment will become a labour of love.

How Do I Overcome My Fears?

The idea of the priesthood may have crossed your mind, but you may have pushed it away because of some fears. Priestly aspirants commonly fear three things: commitment, celibacy and their own unworthiness.

Well, the truth is that many seminarians continue to struggle with these fears. But history has proven that thousands of young men have gone through the same testing and emerged as holy and effective priests. So, be assured that fear is not an indication from God that you shouldn’t be a priest. In fact, fear comes from the Evil One. Just like a snake that paralyses its prey with a venomous bite, fear paralyses a man from moving in God’s direction.

So how can you overcome fear?  Here are five simple ways.

1. Don’t let concerns be fears

You may have legitimate concerns about the requirements of the priesthood, such as celibacy and preaching. Do not let these concerns turn into fears. Rather, examine them objectively.  Yes, it is true that priests need some sort of self-control and public speaking skills, and you need to seriously consider if you’re up for it. You will discover some areas that need working, but carry on with your discernment with humility — not with a fearful heart.

2. Remember what seminary is for

If God calls you to be a priest, ordination remains many years away. Between that, our seminary offers eight years of formation to help you address your concerns, grow in sanctity, and prepare for an effective ministry. No man walks into seminary today ready to be a priest tomorrow!

3. Reflect on God’s love

“Perfect love casts out fear (1Jn 4:18).” In his book To Save a Thousand Souls, Fr. Brett Brannen recommends this meditation: “God is infinite in power and he loves me infinitely. There is no snatching out of his hand. God will never send me where his grace cannot sustain me. If he asks me to do something difficult, like become a priest, he will give me the grace to do it. I will not fail because he is with me. And I will be happy because I am doing his will. Even if I lack some of the needed qualities, God will help me develop them. In his will lies my peace.”

4. Turn to our Blessed Mother

After the archangel Gabriel told her to “fear not,” Mary accepted God’s proposal. “I am the handmaid of the Lord,” she said. “May it be done to me according to your word.” And alleluia, the Word was made flesh! As such, our blessed Mother makes a fine intercessor if you need the courage to give God your “fiat”. Then, you will bring Christ to others through the unique plan God has for you.

5. Seek assurance from the Scriptures

If you are afraid of where God is calling you in life, know that you’re not alone. The Bible is peppered with stories of people who have gone before you, scandalised that God had chosen them for various missions. They voiced their reservations, but God answered each of them as follows.

I’m not holy enough: Isa 6:1-9; Lk 5:1-11

I’m afraid I will fail: Ex 14: 10-31; Lk 15

I’ve made mistakes and I’m a sinner: Jn 21:15-23; Mt 9:9-13; Lk 7:36-50

I’m too young: 1 Sam 3:1-18; 1 Sam 16:1-13; Jer 1:4-10; Lk 1:26-3

I’m not talented enough: 1 Sam 17:32-51; Lk 1: 26-38

I want to have a family: Gen 12:1-3; Mt 12:46-50; Mk 10:28-30

I want “the good life”: Mk 10:17-31; 1 Cor 2:9; Mt 13:44-46; Jn 10:10; Mt 16:24-27

I’m afraid of making commitment: Ruth 1:15-17; Mt 28:16-20; 1 Cor 12:5-10

I’m afraid of public speaking: Ex 4:10-17; Jer 1:4-10; Jer 1: 9-10

I’m not smart enough: 2 Cor 4:7-18; Ex 4:10-17

I’m afraid of being alone: Ex 3:4-22; Lk 1:28-38; Mt 28:20

I want to be happy: Ps 37:4; Mt 5: 1-12; Jn 10:10; Mk 10:28-31; 1 Cor 2:9

I’m filled with fear: 1Jn 4:18

“Be not afraid!” St John Paul II echoes the words of Jesus just before he invites Peter to walk on the stormy waters. Remain faithful to daily prayer, trust the Almighty, and you shall find your heart at peace — no matter your vocation.