Are you being called by Jesus? The answer is a clear ‘Yes!’ Each of us is being asked to do something a little special for God. He has a project for you, a will of love. He created you with a lot of care, ‘gracing’ you with special gifts and blessings. He looks at you now, loving you as you are but seeing you with an eye to your future. To know his will for you is to discover your potential, your true identity, who you really are!
Jesus is calling you. You are already living your first vocation – to follow him, to be his disciple. But what special task is Jesus asking of you? One thing is very important as you continue your searching: you came to discover your calling on your own! However strong your feelings and convictions, Jesus speaks to you and comes to you through his Church, and you will need the Church to help you discern your vocation and to confirm it in Jesus’ name.
The voice of the Lord
Jesus called his apostles in a very personal way. He went to them where they were, spent time with them and called them by name. He calls people to be priests in the same way today, but his presence and his voice are silent and mysterious. You are unlikely to hear a booming voice from on high saying, ‘Be my priest’! Your experience will probably be much the same as Elijah: he found God not in the mighty wind, the earthquake or the fire, but in the gentle breeze (I Kings 19. 9‑14). Jesus comes to you and calls you in a way that never forces itself upon you. His voice reaches deep within you but leaves you totally free. You will hear that voice in the silence of your prayer, in the words of the Scriptures and in the words and lives of those around you. So often it is through a simple suggestion by another priest or someone else that the Lord first brings alive his call in a person’s heart.
‘Come and see’ (John 1. 39)
Jesus is with you where you are, at home, at work, college or school. It is there, in your ordinary daily life, that he will come to you. It is there that you must listen for his voice, and open yourself to whatever his call may be. If you ask Jesus, ‘What do you want of me?’ he will say ‘Come and see’. It is vital that you spend time with him in prayer and reflection. Then you are more likely to hear his voice in whatever way he calls to you.
No two people are quite the same, and Jesus approaches different people in different ways. He treats us as individuals. He will come to you in your particular circumstances, to you as God has made you and as you are now, with all your warts and weaknesses. It is always Jesus who makes the first move: ‘You did not choose me; no, I chose you’ (John 15. 16). He already now puts his trust in you, and wants to entrust you with some special task – perhaps service as a priest.
A strong feeling
The first sign that Jesus may well be calling you to be a priest is a strong feeling deep within you. It is there that the voice of Jesus will reach, stirring you to listen more deeply and to discover his loving will for you in his Church.
You may already have had such feelings in the past. Perhaps at primary school you used to dress up as a priest and play at saying Mass! Perhaps as an altar server you felt you would like to be there where ‘Father’ was. Perhaps you knew a priest who inspired you in a way that made you want to be like him. Your attraction to the priesthood may have been very strong at one time, but it came and went. Perhaps you pushed the idea to one side, embarrassed, anxious and rather afraid. Now it is beginning to return, or perhaps you are having such feelings for the first time.
That feeling within you is very important! You may have had some great moment when you felt deeply called: perhaps on retreat, at Lourdes, at an ordination, watching a film or reading a book about the life of a priest, or as you saw the priest at Mass. What matters more is that your feeling grows into a settled sense that this is the Lord’s will for you. It will need the test of time. You may have to wrestle with the idea over several years. Time will give you the chance to look at your motives, and to explore other options with an open heart. If in the end the persistent and surviving thought is the priesthood that will be a strong indication that Jesus may well be calling you to be a priest.