On the Catholic Priesthood
Thursday April 25, 2019
Vocation to the Priesthood
What is a vocation to the Priesthood? It is a call from Christ to come and follow Him and become His Priest and help Him in the priestly work of His Church. This work is chiefly: celebrating Mass, administering the Sacraments, giving the blessings of the Church, and preaching the Gospel, and thereby helping other people to gain Heaven. Christ Himself called His first twelve Apostles and Priests. Ever since that time, He has been calling boys and young men to the Priesthood. Christ is God. So this vocation to the Priesthood comes from God. It always has, and it always will come from God. In one way or another, He calls to the Priesthood all those young men whom He has chosen. Without this call, there is no vocation. How did Jesus call His Apostles to the Priesthood? Did He do this with, or without, the help of others? In most cases, He had others helping Him, or at least preparing for the life and work of the Priesthood those who were to be called. One of His helpers was Saint John the Baptist. The chief work of John the Baptist was to tell the people about Jesus and prepare them to follow Him. He was preaching at the River Jordan. Among those who listened to him, were some young men. John was telling them about some of the wonderful things which the Promised Redeemer would do. Then a Man, dressed like other men of his time, was seen walking by. John the Baptist saw this Man, and knew that He was the Promised Redeemer. He said to the people: “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. This is He of whom I spoke” (John 1, 29). Two young men, John and Andrew, heard these words. They went to Jesus to learn who He was and what He was going to do. They loved Him and became His Apostles. John the Baptist had prepared them for this, and led them to it. In like manner, Jesus chose the other Apostles. After they were prepared with the help of others, He said to each of them: “Come, follow Me.” First, Jesus called the young men to be His Apostles. Then, He taught and trained them month after month until they were able to help Him with His work. Jesus is still calling to the Priesthood those whom He chooses, and training them with the help of others. It is true, He is seen no longer walking among men as a man. But He is still with them. He is with them in company with God the Holy Spirit. And He is with them as the Risen Savior, as the High Priest of His Church; He is with them personally in the Holy Eucharist. He is still calling those whom He chooses to be His Priests. God knows all things. He plans all things according to His own will. If we have a vocation to the Priesthood, God knew this before we came into the world. And He gave us the desire, talent, health, parents, and all else that we would need to follow our vocation. At first we may not know we have a vocation to the Priesthood. But at the proper time, God makes it known to us, sometimes suddenly, more often slowly and by degrees. Before Saint Paul was a Christian, he never even dreamed that he would be a Priest in Christ’s Church. He persecuted the Church which Christ founded. In so doing, he believed he was pleasing God, for he thought that the Jewish religion was still God’s one true Church. Suddenly, Jesus by a miracle struck him with blindness and spoke to him. At once Paul became a Christian, and then an Apostle and Priest. Some boys and young men learn of their vocation to the Priesthood suddenly. But most of them learn of it slowly. Day by day, it becomes clearer to them what God would have them do. A priest, a religious, a sermon, a book, a friend, or something else, inspires them with the thought that they have a vocation, or to be more sure of it. First, they may be in doubt; then they are almost sure; and then they become certain that Jesus is calling them, saying to them: “Come, and follow Me as a Priest.” God has placed each of us on earth to do a special work for Him. As soon as we come to the use of reason, we should begin praying and studying to find out what that work is; then we must fit ourselves to do that work well. If we think Christ is calling us to be a Priest in the diocesan Priesthood or to the Priesthood in the religious life, we should do all we can to make certain of it. We should pray fervently and consider whether we have the necessary health and strength, and whether we can be taught and trained to do the work of the Priesthood well. We must see to it that we keep from mortal sin and spare no effort to keep from all venial sin also. We must resolve to become a Priest not for any earthly pleasure or profit, but solely to help Christ in His Church, saving people from hell, helping them to Heaven, and making them holier and happier. And while we thus plan to be a Priest, we should be living, as well as we can, the life of the Priesthood.
Source: Vocations, Fr. Richard Felix, O.S.B.