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.