Vocations ~ What’s Keeping You?
Jesus said on the seashore, “Come follow me,” to the sons of Zebedee. They immediately left their nets and father and followed him. How crazy is that? To leave everything you know and love to follow a man into some unknown activity. These followers of Jesus must have really trusted God to recognize that Jesus was more than just a man and that following him into the unknown was the right thing to do.
From March 28 through April 3 is Vocations Week! This is a time that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles calls ALL people to really look at and listen to Jesus calling, “Come Follow Me!” Does this mean that everyone is called to be a priest, sister, or brother? Of course not, but many are. Others are called to the vocation of marriage. Still others are called to the vocation of the single life. All are honorable vocations! Before going any further, let’s define that word, VOCATIONS:
1. a particular occupation, business, or profession; calling.
2. a strong impulse or inclination to follow a particular activity or career.
3. a divine call to God’s service or to the Christian life.
Notice that two of the definitions include the call by God. This is really true. God calls everyone to live a life of prayer, service, fidelity, love and worship. Priests and Religious are called to a deeper level of all of these. One of the greatest things that hold people back from the vocations of Priesthood and Religious Life is fear. As stated in the last article, these vocations are NEVER for the weak. Some of the most common fears include the following:
Fear of disappointing family and others. Could happen. But, if you really take seriously your discernment process and try your best, there shouldn’t be disappointment. It’s like the person going to college: they change majors usually at least twice before finishing their degree. Most people end up with two or three different jobs throughout life. The important part is that the idea of a priestly or religious vocation was tested. Disappointing would be if you had a calling and never explored it!
Fear of uncertainty. Hate to break it to you, life is full of uncertainty! If we waited until we were 100% sure of anything before doing anything, we would do nothing! If a vocation has been a question for you over time, why not explore it? It doesn’t hurt to ask questions, do some exploring or talk to people about it. It does hurt to let uncertainty freeze you into inaction!
Fear of loneliness. Yup, that’s a big one. Ok, let’s look at this one. There are times you will be lonely. Heck, there are times you are lonely right now! Please realize being a priest or religious does not mean you can’t have friends or ever see your family again. First and foremost, you are a human being; that doesn’t change. You have friends now, and you will make new friends. You have a family right now and they will continue (for good or bad) to be your family. For those who may be looking into a cloister or closed community, you have a community full of people who are in the same boat as you are. They are a readymade captive audience of people to be friends and family with!
Fear of insufficient personal financial resources. Translated ~ can I afford to be a priest or religious? [This next part is a direct copy from the Vocations Director Plan through the Archdiocese. It should be right!] “In formation for priesthood and religious life, considerable funds and resources are necessary. Different times I hear interested candidates saying they don’t want to cause the diocese of religious community the expenses involved unless they’re 100% sure the choice. This should not be a concern. There are many generous people ready to share the financial blessings God has given to them. At the discretion of the Bishop and vocation office, this money is made available to assist those discerning. Even if one should not complete their studies, chances are they’ll still be involved in some form of ministry. The financial help is therefore, never “wasted”.”
Fear of living without possessions. Try having three kids in Catholic school or college at the same time! Sorry ~ really personal comment. Let’s look at the positive, less stuff to move when you go somewhere else! No, you will never become rich in money or possessions if you live the life of a priest or religious. If that’s what you need to be fulfilled, this is not the place to go for it. If you want a fulfilling life jam packed full of challenges, experiences, friendships, planting seeds of faith, watering other seeds of faith, and being amazed by hugeness of God’s love; this might just be the place for you!