As members of the Church we each have a vocation to perform, a certain function for the building up of God’s Kingdom, as do the different limbs and organs in a Body (cf. 1 Cor 12). It’s this deeper call that requires us to listen closely to God, in prayer, and watch for the signs of His action in our lives. This process is called ‘discernment’.
God calls each person in a slightly different way. But that does not mean that there are not certain basic signs that might indicate that He is calling you to be a priest. These signs come roughly speaking on three levels:
1. In God speaking through your personal relationship with Him.
2. Through the circumstances of your life, and the people of God.
3. Through the Church’s hierarchy.
Here are some helpful questions on these areas to help you to reflect on this calling.
‘No vocation is born of itself or lives for itself. A vocation flows from the heart of God and blossoms in the good soil of faithful people.’
- Do you pray frequently, seeking out time alone with God?
- Do you read the Scriptures voluntarily or say the Rosary or use other devotions?
- Do you attend Mass every Sunday and Holy Days of Obligation without fail, and seek out the Mass on other days too?
- Do you regularly make use of the sacrament of Confession?
- Do you see your faith as something that shapes your attitudes and drives?
- Do you try each day to be a better person, following the Holy Spirit’s promptings?
- Do you strive to be chaste and believe wholeheartedly in the Church’s teaching on marriage and sexuality?
- As a boy, did you ever entertain ideas of being a priest? Or play at ‘saying Mass’?
- Have you always taken an active part in parish life?
- Did you ever serve at the altar or sing in the choir?
- Has your choice of studies or work so far been shaped by your faith?
- Have your non-Catholic friends ever remarked positively on your faith or found you an attractive example of being a good Christian?
- If you are a convert, do you feel you’ve been living a stable and constant life as a practising Catholic for a while?
- Have people in your parish ever suggested to you that you would make a good priest?
- In your choices in the world of work, have you recognized the importance of hard work while being unconcerned for personal gain?
- Do people ever turn to you for good moral counsel or when struggling with faith?
- Have you tried to cultivate good relationships in your family?
- Have you had healthy relationships with friends, and girlfriends, that did not detract from your following Christ?
It is, in the end, the bishop or superior, who calls a man, to step forward and receive the sacrament of Orders. The final say on discerning a priestly vocation does not lie within any one of us, but with him. Are you open to the advice of the diocesan Vocations Director, his team, and those the bishop might entrust with helping you discern?