”I am too young” “Depart from me, Lord, for I am sinful man.” “Who am I to do this? I’m not anyone special.” “I’m not eloquent. Send someone else.”
These are some of the responses from people in the Bible to God calling them, including Jeremiah, Peter, Gideon, and Moses. When God appears and calls someone, they are often afraid, they recognize their own shortcomings, they realize the sacrifices involved in what God is calling them to do and that it won’t be easy, they realize there are other people who are much more naturally suited to what God is asking them to do, and they respond accordingly.
Some of the same challenges present themselves today to people whom God is calling to the priesthood and consecrated life. While priesthood and consecrated life is a wonderful life, full of many blessings, when someone hears that call in their hearts, there are a number of fears or obstacles that go with it. The person realizes that they will never be married, they won’t be able to have children or grandchildren, they probably won’t be a millionaire or highly successful in the worldly sense, they might be seen as strange to others and sometimes seen with suspicion or ridicule in our own day and age, they aren’t worthy or holy enough, they need to do things that make them uncomfortable like public speaking or spending time with the dying, and a consecrated person might be unknown to the world altogether and rarely see their family again. Of course, there are countless blessings but when the person is discerning, the focus can be largely on the sacrifices.
On top of these challenges for those who already hear God’s call, there is the challenge for all of us, especially in our own day and age where we are constantly busy and surrounded by noise and activity and entertainment, to have that quiet and peace to hear or feel that prompting of God in the heart. Then, there is the culture at large that challenges all vocations today with the emphasis on the self, worldly pleasures, and a lack of sacrifice.
Those are the challenges. What is the response? Among other things, prayer. Prayer can help hearts to overcome their fears and place their trust in God’s will. This is why Jesus said, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.” Prayer can help these young men and women to overcome their fears and respond courageously and generously to these wonderful vocations and to hear that prompting in their heart. Since the vocations to priesthood and consecrated life aren’t always the first thing that people consider and sometimes involve additional challenges with discernment, the Lord asks us to pray in a special way. We can pray for the future shepherds of our Church, those who witness to Christ through a consecrated life, and those who will bring us the sacraments. We don’t always see the fruits of our prayers, but by our prayers, we can help the future of the Church
Thankfully, at Saint Timothy’s we can see some fruits of our prayers already. Every month, we close the prayers of the faithful with the prayer for vocations to respond to this call. God has heard our prayers, blessing Saint Timothy’s with priests and sisters from the parish, as well as now three seminarians and a woman in the consecrated life. This is remarkable for a parish our size.
Tonight, we can continue those prayers in a special way and respond to Christ’s invitation to pray for this intention. As you know, we will have a special Holy Hour for Vocations, beginning at 7:00 PM in the main church. We will have visiting clergy and seminarians in attendance as well. Please come and also invite your friends and family. In addition to having special intentions for vocations, this is also a great time for all of us to have that peace and quiet that we need with the Lord to hear God’s continued call for us, to be able say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening” and respond with courage ourselves to living our own calling all the more with love, joy, and generosity. As we pray for vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, we renew our own calls to serve God generously and to respond “Thy Will be Done”.