Tears streamed down his face as he stood beneath the towering columns flanking the altar of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City on Saturday, May 25, 2019. The emotions of the moment overwhelmed him — the culmination of several long years of discerning the Call; of education and spiritual direction; of knees worn from thousands of hours of prayer and Adoration … all seeking the Grace to hear and answer in accordance with God’s Will. The journey had led to this place at this time … where a miracle of Grace would shortly occur.
Standing before the teeming congregation, the hundreds of gathered clergy, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, and of course, Christ Himself, he would lay his life down, prostrating himself before the altar as a sign of his submission to Christ’s loving embrace.
He would enter into this divine order of service, of ministering to all people, loving all people, accepting all people, as Christ taught the disciples to do some 2,000 years earlier.
The congregation fell silent as Cardinal Dolan lay his hands upon his head, and an invisible, indelible mark imprinted his soul — a mark that would set him aside as an instrument of mercy, and a vessel of grace, with hands capable of bringing Christ’s very Presence into the world, and His forgiveness to those in need.
The Call to the priesthood is one of the many signs that God is still passionately involved in writing the story of the human race. Men of all ages are being pursued by the Divine Bridegroom, invited to experience their ultimate fulfillment in a lifelong relationship joining Christ as the Apostles did. “I will make you fishers of men …”
In this day, the Call can sometimes be frightening, with our cultural climate that does not celebrate the priesthood as in the past, and in many cases attacks it. The objections to accepting the Call are all too obvious. And yet, this isn’t anything new. How many people did Jesus call while he traveled the roads of Jerusalem and the banks of Galilee who found the invitation too hard? How many stayed for a while and then left? Scripture reports that there were more than a few.
So while the digital age we live in may be vastly different in its worldly lure and temptations, it’s really the same. The “world” would much prefer that a man be anything other than a priest.
The Call itself is a supernatural Grace placed in a heart patiently waiting for an answer. It echoes the very words of Christ, “Come follow me …”
A man doesn’t choose the priesthood; he assents to the invitation.
How does this invitation resonate in the soul? Each experience is unique and yet similar. Someone once said:
Have you ever, even as a passing thought, considered the priesthood? Has someone ever come up to you and said something like “You’d make a great priest!” or “Have you ever considered becoming a priest?” If so, the Holy Spirit may be at work through them to get your attention. Do you like to dress in black? (just kidding … but who knows?) Do you ever feel like you’re called to do more, or participate more deeply in the faith? Have you found a lack of satisfaction in achieving the things you thought would fulfill you?
If you’ve answered yes to any of these, don’t dismiss the possibility that you
might be called.
True fulfillment is found in pursuing what God created you to be and following that path. And prayerful discernment will lead you there. It may be the priesthood, or an entirely different state in life. Either way, prayerful discernment lays a foundation on which to build a life. And that’s the one thing you really want to get right.
So in the event you’ve never been asked before, consider this a question being posed to you personally:
Are you being called to be a priest?