I know a priest, whom we will call Fr Michael, from a diocese with a large retiree population. Fr Michael is good priest who is very prayerful and gifted with finances. He spent his first few years as a pastor in a stable parish with a balanced budget and many active retired parishioners.
Then things changed quite a bit for Fr Michael. He was asked… or even told by the bishop to take a parish in the middle of a large state university. Fr Michael was not happy about this new assignment. The campus church had a serious debt. Fr Michael is foreign-born with a strong accent. He also knew that his personality was low-key. Fr Michael thought the parish needed a dynamic priest that could animate the youth. How could this ever be a good match? Continue Reading…
We who have a vocation to priesthood or religious life all have that moment when we first know that God is calling us. Sometimes the Lord sends fireworks or great signs, but most often this supernatural life is offered to us through the still small voice. The Holy Spirit speaks to our souls through the normal circumstances of life and the voice of others who recognize God’s grace in us. We see this in the first reading today when the Early Church chooses the first deacons. This calling to Holy Orders is done in a very ordinary way. The Lord uses the Apostles (aka the Church hierarchy) to choose those who are fit and have the grace to serve as deacons.
Responding to this call to ministry can be quite exciting, especially when it first happens. Yet, inevitably there will be times in our vocation when the skies grow dark. When our experience does not match our expectations. Moments of failure. Times when those we look up to disappoint us.
The Clarity of a Calling
The sea is “stirred up.” “A strong wind is blowing.” We cry out to Jesus. He may only be faintly present at the moment. Is it all a dream? Is this call just an illusion? How can the beauty of the call be reconciled with the darkness of sin…with the imperfection of this fallen world?
The response of the worldly is just to move on to the next thing. Saying, “Well, that didn’t work out.” But the Incarnation tells us that God is to be found in our fallen world. Jesus lived in the messiness of life. We must dig deeper. Look closer. He is there! Jesus is in the midst of the storm saying, “It is I, do not be afraid.”
It is exactly there, in the midst of the storm, that we are strengthened in our vocation. The grace to get through it is found. We truly discover that this call is from God. For only He could get us through. Only with His grace can we live this supernatural vocation. May we see the storms of our lives not as disasters but as invitations to grow and as proofs of Jesus’ presence with us always.
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