We all have a God-given vocation which we must seek to discover and give effect to in life. This is how we find true happiness in this world and hope to attain eternal salvation. Two vocations are raised to the level of a sacrament because they concern not just the individual, but the wider good of the Church and society: holy matrimony and Holy Order (priesthood). We need strong, loving families and good, holy priests – the two go together and support each other.
Is God calling me to priesthood?
That is a question every young, single Catholic man should ask himself. Is God calling me to serve Him and His people in this way – by celebrating the sacraments in the person of Christ, by preaching the Gospel and by leading others in the ways of truth, charity and prayer?
This call from God might make itself in a number of ways, often through the example of a priest we know. If we find this question keeps recurring, then we need to explore it further. God will make matters clear to us if we take the issue seriously – that means a number of things:
- Listening to Him in prayer. We should pray every day – seeking God’s plan for our lives in silent prayer.
- Attending Mass regularly – every Sunday certainly, but also during the week where possible. Consider offering to serve at the altar.
- Keeping the Commandments and living by the teaching of the Church in all areas of our lives.
- Going to Confession regularly (at least once a month).
- We should talk to our parish priest – or another priest we feel able to speak with. He can give us some insight into the reality of priesthood. He can also help us in our spiritual lives, by talking about the life of prayer, suggesting parish activities we might get involved, reading we might find helpful or areas of our life that might need to reflect upon.
If through prayer and conversation with the priest, this calling to priesthood is growing stronger, then you should contact the Westminster Vocations Director. You will find details at www.rcdow.org.uk/vocations The Vocations Director will help you discover the right vocation for you. Making contact can seem a big step, but we discover that we are not alone. There are many other young men thinking about priesthood.
You need to consider what form of priesthood you might be called to, i.e. in a parish, a monastery or the type of work undertaken by various religious or missionary orders. The application procedure is thorough so both you and the Church are confident that you are following the right path. If you apply to the Diocese, the final decision rests with the Bishop, who will send you to seminary for a number of years. During this time you study, receive formation in the spiritual life and experience various aspects of priestly life – always with a view to becoming closer to Christ, our great High Priest.
The Church needs priests, today as much as at any other time, those who receive the power to make present the Body and Blood of Christ, to forgive sin. The path to ordination is long and the priestly ministry is challenging, but for those who are called it is the most privileged and rewarding life to serve God and the Church in this way.
‘When Jesus saw the crowds, He had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; so pray to the Lord of the harvest to send labourers into His harvest,”’(Matthew 9:36-38)
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