Recognizing the Call

Jesus Christ lovingly calls each and every of His disciples to follow Him, to leave all behind and walk with Him in faith.  Jesus calls some to follow Him in a particularly profound and intimate manner as priests or consecrated religious, becoming a profound witness of Christ’s living presence in this world that so much remains in need of salvation.  Those he calls to the ministerial priesthood, Jesus uniquely empowers to bring the grace of His sacraments to His people and to this world, graces of reconciliation, healing, and communion.

Every vocation is a gift from God which must be explored by prayer and merited by the witness of a holy life.
- Pope John Paul II

Jesus’ loving call evokes a deep and personal stirring within one's soul, a stirring that promises life and peace, while challenging one to his or her very core.  Those entering marriage as Christian disciples know this stirring even beyond the human stirrings of intimacy.  And those Jesus calls to follow Him in the priesthood know the deep stirring of God in their soul, and sense that this stirring must swell into their entire life.

Discerning Jesus’ call can take much effort, no doubt about it.  It can be especially tough if you've just begun to take Christian discipleship seriously.  And in a world so contradictory to radical faith, Jesus’ call to the priesthood may seem exceptionally difficult.  Figuring out how to pray and with whom to talk can present challenges. Fears of what others think, notably one’s family and friends, can compound one’s openness to Jesus’ call.  And what of priests not having sex, not having a wife and children, of being celibate?  How can Jesus lovingly call me to this?

Our Blessed Lord teaches us not to fear but to trust in Him, to follow Him, and not to enter a no-man’s land of gloom.  Yes, Christian discipleship requires sacrifice; a sacrifice lived in vocations of marriage, dedicated single life, consecrated life, or priesthood.  This sacrifice in following Christ paradoxically brings life and joy.  Denying the call of Christ, denying this sacrifice, paradoxically brings sadness and death.
Jesus can and will give us happiness if we do His will, if we answer His call. Let the Holy Spirit work in your soul to know and follow the deep personal stirring of your vocation.

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