How is it that many whom come to Eucharist every Sunday, and Confession frequently, would be entirely closed off to the possibility of a vocation to priesthood or religious life? There could be many reasons. Maybe “the many” are just not called to such a vocation. Maybe they are scared. Maybe “the many” do not want to relinquish control over their lives. Maybe they are coming for the wrong reasons?
Without passing judgment, the truth of the matter is that we need more men to consider the seminary. We need more men and women to consider religious life. I have a hunch (and it is only a hunch, because I do not know the Mind of God) that “many” are being called, and few are responding.
What if a call has come to you? What if God has placed the call on your heart to “come and see”? Then what?
This Friday is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, the day when Mary said yes to the Angel Gabriel, and accepted Jesus into her womb. St. Bernard had a beautiful reflection on this most momentous event in human history. He says that all of creation listened with eagerness and longing for Mary’s answer to the Angel. Would Mary say yes to being the Mother of God? Or would she say no? What would her choice be? St. Bernard wrote:
Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter. If he should pass by because of your delay, in sorrow you would begin to seek him afresh, the One whom your soul loves. Arise, hasten, open. Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to your word.
What did I learn from my Mother? Say yes. Is “yes” scary? Absolutely. Does “yes” require me to leave good things behind? Of course. Does “yes” compel me to go deeper in faith than I ever have before? Well, yes, it does. But, will “yes” to a call to the Priesthood literally mean that Christ will enter the world through me sacramentally, everyday, just as He entered the womb of Mother Mary? Joyfully, yes!
It hard to say “yes”? But, my brothers, my sisters, if God is calling you to discernment of a priestly or religious vocation, please say yes. All of creation anxiously awaits your reply, so that Jesus may continue to be born daily: on our altars, in our confessionals, at our sickbeds, in our schools, in our baptismal fonts.
God’s people await your response. Will you say yes?
Check out On the Vine http://www.eriercd.org/vine.asp – Fr. Steve Schreiber’s Youth Office Website, for access to a whole slew of youth events of which you may joyfully partake. Also, click the link for http://www.jp2journey.com/ – an awesome online revisiting of the Diocesan Youth Office’s pilgrimage to see Pope John Paul II at World Youth Day in Toronto in 2002. It was one of the most significant moments in our local church for my generation of youth and seminarians. Take a look and be inspired. God bless!