Absolute Certainty

Interest in the vocation, especially when it lasts over time, is often a sign of a vocation but it is not enough.
by Father Anthony Bannon, LC | Source: Catholic.net
Q. Hi Fr. Bannon,

I had a few questions which I have been thinking about for a while, and I wanted to see what you think about them. I am 18 and in my last year of high school, and I had never thought about being a priest until just a few years ago when cleaning our church for Easter, I saw 2 of the OMI priests in their cassocks from the choir loft. All of a sudden, I got this idea of the priesthood. Over the years, it has gotten a bit clearer, until now when I have to make my decision what to do after high school, and one of the possibilities I am considering is to become a priest. However, I don't want to go into the seminary, only to find out that I am not really called. I have not told anyone about it, because I want to be sure of it myself, first. I have asked a couple OMI priests to see what they thought about it. One of them thought: that if I wanted to become one that this was a sign of a vocation, and I should go. Another priest thought that a vocation was unexplainable; it just is a desire to serve God and His people in a special way. So, I am right now, a little bit confused, and rushed, because parents, friends, are urging me to apply to a university, but I am not 100% sure that this is what God wants me to do, so I am holding back just a bit. However, I have to decide by this fall, which is why I wrote to you asking for advice.

Thank you for your advice and prayers, God Bless,

- Paul John

A. Dear Paul John,

The first thing I think you should do in order to be more at ease and serene as you try to sort out God's will is to make your application to university. This does not oblige you to go to university, but it is well worth whatever time or fee is involved since it will be one point taken care of and will leave you in more peace and with a greater margin of time to consider your vocation.

The second is that you need to speak again with a priest you trust about your own vocation. It often starts with the smallest thing (like seeing those two priests from the choir-loft), and then it slowly matures and takes form. Interest in the vocation, especially when it lasts over time, is often a sign of a vocation but it is not enough. You have to make sure that the other signs are there (the physical, psychological and spiritual health and qualities necessary), and that there are no signs against the vocation in your life. These are the things you have to speak to a director about.

You also need to consider if God is calling you to be a priest in the diocese or in a religious order.

Not everyone is 100% sure about their vocation when they join the seminary, and even if they are they have to be open to God's will in the event it turns out to be something else. I would not seek 100%, absolute certainty. It is enough that the necessary signs are there, no impediments, and that you are moved by a spiritual motive to follow the vocation.

God bless.

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