St John's Q&A

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

"How do you know if God is calling you for a vocation?"

I will assume that this question, asked recently on the St. John's blog site, pertains to a vocation to priesthood or religious life. Check out this site to find the main ways to discern God's Call: http://www,

In addition, the following is a column written on April 24, 1994 by the late Msgr. Thomas Wells, who was tragically murdered six years ago in his Germantown rectory. This is taken from the book of Fr. Wells' writings, "From the Pastor's Desk".
"How did you know you wanted to be a priest?" How I dread hearing that question! I suppose it is sort of like asking someone, "How did you fall in love?" What does one say? It just happens; and in terms of priesthood or any religious vocation, each person's story is unique and individual. As I have thought about answering that question for myself, however, I think there are two important parts to the answer.

First of all, I confess that, by personality, I am a person who lives pretty much in the here and now. I am pretty good at responding to the crisis of today; much less good at planning for the future. I suppose no one has everything, so I'll have to live with who I am. At any rate, as I grew up, I pretty much lived day to day: from grade school to high school to college (never even got around to applying to college until February of my senior year). I was the type (I do not recommend this) who would get up at 5 a.m. to study for a test because I had put off studying until then.

The point is that I never gave much thought to vocation until my last year of college: I was just not that worried about the future (plus college was a lot of fun). But I think deep down, I always kind of knew that I would end up a priest. I never talked about it to anyone, I never even thought that much about it, but I think it was always there. In other words, God knew my personality and He just waited until I was ready to pay attention to His call.

The second, and much more important thing, has to do with the Eucharist. In a variety of ways that space does not permit me to describe here, God led me, through influences at home, in parish and in Catholic schools, to a real faith in and love for Christ present in the Eucharist. I truly believe that perhaps the greatest spiritual gift of my life is that God has allowed me to deeply believe in the power and strength that are in the Mass. Therefore, since the celebration of the Mass is so central to priesthood, I suppose it did not knock me to the ground in shock when I came to face the possibility that God wanted me to live my life as a priest.

I cannot, of course, speak with any authority about the call to be a sister - though this call, too, is one of service to and for the Church - but I can say, that for me, at least, the Eucharist is at the heart of the matter. I really believe that if we are a people who are centered on the Eucharistic Sacrifice, there will be no shortage of those willing to give their lives to the Church. And, so, perhaps, our prayers for vocations should begin with prayer that we become, ever more completely, a Eucharistic community."


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