Answering a Call

How a college kid was called to serve.
by Brother Derek Thiel, LC | Source: Catholic.net

          He always enjoyed being among friends. Their company never grew old and there was no better place to spend an evening or a weekend, but as of late he seemed to be more distracted than normal.  Out of the clear night blue and also from somewhere deep within, and yet not totally, came an invitation and a realization: “this is not the place where I am supposed to live out my life; I have to go.”  He was being called and he had to answer, but he did not know where or how or why. One thing he did get the sense of: “The answer I am looking for is far away.”  

Here was a college kid immersed in sports and school, girls and friends. One who was not interested in distracting, life-complicating happenings.  He was ‘just fine’ avoiding church and any other serious responsibility.   Regarding prayer, real prayer – he was clueless.  There was a problem however and it was not a small one.  The invitation or ‘calling’ continued to echo in his heart.  “Where is it coming from and what does it mean?”  Not just from within but also from without, he knew that the answer held the key to what he was supposed to do then and in the future.

What does an 18 year old guy going to Texas Tech, comfortable and unconvinced, do when confronted with a life-changing challenge?  He procrastinates or runs. In this case he did both; partly because God was calling and the stakes were high, and partly because answering the challenge would be a jump into the unknown.  He knew that if he answered God’s call he would: one, have to leave; two, he would never be back; and three, things would never be the same. He would never be the same.  

What convinced this young man to give God a shot at his life was one unmovable thought: “if there was one thing worth a life, worth dying for, one thing representing an all consuming love and mission, it has to be spending my life for the work of God.  There is no more noble or selfless act possible.”  He would be a missionary and carry the Gospel where it is most needed, defending it with his life if necessary.  

After a long struggle, he was won over to act upon this thought and ended up in Connecticut (how he ended up there is another story) where he found a seminary full of young men charged with the love of God. You could smell the authenticity in the air and after a long deep breath, more a sigh than anything else; he knew that he was on the right track and in the right spot.  August was about over when he and 50 other guys began a summer course called ‘the candidacy program’.  The goal of the program is to find out whether or not God is calling you to be a priest.  Various guys came up to him: “are you going to become a priest?”  “Don’t think so,” was the reply.  His plan was to be a missionary and there were other things tied up with being a priest that he was not ready to accept.  So those late summer days pass by and he spends long moments in the chapel reading the Gospel.  The passages he reads seem to come alive and call him to a greater generosity.  God was speaking to his heart and he began to change.  He was changing from a man of his own will and his own plans to a man of God’s will and divine plan of salvation.  He reads Lk 10:27 (He said in reply, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.") and it sets off a tiny explosion in the depths of his conscience: “that means everything”.  He agreed to live it to the full.

The candidacy program was coming to an end and after three weeks there was still no definitive plan of action.  “What am I supposed to do? Where am I supposed to go?”  An eight day retreat is announced at the end of which those young men who had discovered that God was calling them to be priests would stay on and begin the formal process of training while the others would return home and focus on serving God in another way.   

The retreat began and he was there ready for whatever, though not knowing what to expect.  The priest enters the room, sits down and places his steady gaze upon the group.  After a few moments he nonchalantly states: “What are you gentleman doing here?  If you do not know by now, then you are wasting your time and you are wasting ours. Go find out.  Ask the Lord what you are doing here.”  It was the best advice he had heard in a long time and he felt the electricity of the invitation working in his heart.  He got up and walked to his room.  He shuts the door and kneels down all the while retreating into his heart. Then he softly begins to pray.  “Lord, why am I here?  Why did you bring me here?  What am I supposed to do?”  At that moment, in the depths of his heart, two words resounded with all the power of a tremendous earthquake yet with the gentleness of a soft breeze: 

to serve”.   

             In one timeless instant, the Lord gave him an undeniable glimpse of the treasure he had placed in his soul a long time ago and there was no doubting its beauty or the force of its truth and goodness.  He knew what had to be done and any reservation or lack of certainty evaporated into thin air.  He responded, “Yes.”  The Lord had opened up before him a path to the priesthood and the salvation of souls and he would take it wherever it would lead him. 

Then the real adventure began…



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Published by: Michael
Date: 2010-12-30 10:18:50
really inspiring....

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