Searching for Answers
How do I figure it out? | Discernment Opportunities | Dealing with Fear
How do I figure it out?
It’s not unusual for faithful, healthy men to feel attracted to priesthood; often times, they feel attracted to marriage as well. But most don’t know how to figure out if they might be called by God to be a priest. Here are some ways to determine if God might be calling you to priesthood.
Pray – No one will ever figure out God’s will for them if they don’t pray.
Continue receiving the sacraments – maybe consider something extra (e.g. daily Mass)
Slowly read scripture – Is God speaking to you as you reflect on his word?
Speak to God from your heart – As you think of priesthood, do you feel a sense of peace or anxiety?
Do some spiritual reading – does this evoke any feelings?
Quiet contemplation – Eucharistic adoration – where do you feel God drawing you?
Gather information – Good decisions demand good information
Articles – read as much as you can about the life of a priest, the process to becoming a priest and the joys/difficulties of being a priest. Vocation directors can provide these articles for you or you can visit www.gopriest.com to have free discernment books mailed right to you.
Talk to other men thinking about the same thing – it’s informative to converse with men thinking about the same questions as you.
Talk to priests and seminarians – find out how they discovered their call to priesthood
Make an appointment with a vocation director – he can provide you with a lot of information…without a hard sell. Fr. Anthony Ligato
Get a spiritual director – this allows for honest, challenging and confidential discussions
Theological Reflection – God speaks to us through ordinary people and everyday events. Take time to reflect back on your day…was God speaking to you in any of those encounters?
Reflect on the following questions
What brings you joy at your deepest level? Most people called to priesthood would respond with “serving God and his people.”
What gifts have you been given by God? Does this tell you anything about what God might be asking you to do with your life?
If you were in a room with Jesus and you asked him what he needs you to do with your life, what would he tell you?
Join a priesthood discernment group
Discernment groups in the Diocese of Albany meet monthly to pray, eat and discuss topics of interest to men considering priesthood. Seminarians are present for these meetings and offer their insights.
Participate in programs offered by the Vocations Office
Shadow-a-Priest for a day
Dinner and discussion with Bishop Sharfenberger
Barbeques and Tri-City Valley Cats Baseball with seminarians.
Take a retreat offered by the vocation office
Visit St. Isaac Jogues House and a major seminary
Attend a priesthood ordination
See if you find joy in serving others as Jesus did
Get involved in your parish – lector, eucharistic minister, greeter, RCIA, youth ministry, teach a religious ed. class, etc.
Volunteer at a nursing home
Bring communion to the homebound or hospital
Volunteer at a soup kitchen or food pantry
Discernment Group Meetings – open to college-aged men and older, interested in learning more about priesthood. Meetings take place at St Isaac Jogues House of Discernment in Green Island. Meetings include prayer, food and discussion (e.g. How does one live a healthy, celibate life as a priest? What can I do to figure out if I’m called to be a priest or not? What about loneliness? Do priests have any say in where they are assigned? What are the best and worst things about being a priest? What’s seminary life like? How long would it take me to become a priest?)
Nuts and Bolts
Retreats – offered by the vocation office
Social gatherings - with priests and seminarians
Meet with the diocesan vocation director: Email Fr. Anthony Ligato
Dealing with Fear
Fear kills many vocations to priesthood. Some examples include:
- “I’m not ready.”
- “What if I make a mistake?”
- “I’m not good enough, smart enough, holy enough, etc.”
- “I could never sacrifice that much.”
- “How could I ever be happy without a woman in my life?”
- Fear of commitment
- Overly concerned with the opinion of others
- Not measuring up to society and family definition of “success.”
- Laziness – being a priest of Jesus Christ requires motivation and energy.
Some ideas to pray about and meditate on daily:
- Trust God with your life. Giving your life to our Lord is the greatest gift you can give him. Let him make the decision on what he needs you to do with your short time on earth.
- Fear is one of the subtle ways that Satan works in our lives to keep us from a closer relationship with our Lord. It’s easier to succumb to fear than it is to trust God.
- You were made for joy; God would never call you to a life of misery. If Jesus Christ is calling you to priesthood, you’ll find joy, not misery.
- Accept the fact that every vocation has crosses…there is no life that doesn’t include the cross. Marriage and single life have as many crosses as the priesthood.
- The most meaningful things in life involve sacrifice. Don’t shy away from the priesthood because of the sacrifices; sacrifice is part of the reason it’s so special.
- Many say: “I’ll give marriage a shot; if it doesn’t work, I’ll try the priesthood.” What message does that send God? Why not give God the first shot?
- Commitments close certain doors in our life. But commitment opens the doors to what we most desire: meaning and purpose in life, joy, peacefulness and contentment.
- If God is calling you to priesthood, our Lord will take all your fears & anxieties and give you the grace to deal with them. This is the grace of Holy Orders.
- In the Our Father, we say, “Your will be done.” In our society, we have become comfortable with, “my will be done.”
- How would God define “success?”
- If you met Jesus Christ today, what would he tell you he wants you to do with your life?
- A decision to enter the seminary is not a decision to become a priest. Rather, it’s a time to “sift” and “sort” (that’s what discernment means). If you ended up leaving the seminary because priesthood is not your vocation, you’re not a failure. Rather, you were a generous person who willingly gave God a couple years of your life trying to figure out if he was calling you to priesthood.