Thursday, July 17, 2003

More on Vocations

A commentor named Thomas in my earlier post about the Catholic notion of vocation says this: I wonder what one does when most of the folks in one's parish, most of the pastors, most everyone in fact, keeps encouraging a vocation to, oh, say, the priesthood, and yet a small, but influential, group says no. At what point doe a person persevere in the face of a NO, when so many sober, honest, thoughtful folk tell him YES? Oh, and when he can find no, absolutely no, rest in anything else? I just wonder, I have no answers.

I am going to assume that "one" is you, Thomas. Correct me if I am wrong. First, why is it that so many are telling you that you may have a vocation? What do they see in you? Second, what is it that those opposed see that makes them opposed? If you can figure out why they are saying what they say, you can assess the merits of each position. One could be opposed to a religious vocation because of moral weaknesses in the person, or because it would preclude grandchildren. The first reason is legitimate, the second is selfish. So try to figure out why the various people are saying what they are saying.

You say that you find no rest in anything else. That's good: we are created for God, and by nature can find no rest in anything but Him. Doing God's will is the only way to happiness. If it is indeed God's will that you serve Him as a priest, you will not truly flourish until you heed that call. But here's the rub: one can serve God in marriage as well. How can we decide?

Here's a bit of advice: Go try it. If you have the inclination, and if your parish seems to think it is a good idea, and if those opposed are opposed not for good reasons, give it a try. The doors on the seminary are not locked--you can leave any time you want. Go, begin the journey, and let the Church tell you if it is your vocation or not. The job of the seminary staff is to determine whether or not the call from God is genuine. In fact, should you proceed to ordination, the bishop asks the rector of the seminary whether you should be ordained. It is his job to report his judgment to the bishop. Why not let him do his job? They won't ordain you or have you take vows tomorrow: there is plenty of time to leave, if you or they decide that you must.

If, as you say, you can find no rest in anything else, you have nothing to lose.

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