“Each of you has a personal vocation which He has given you for your own joy and sanctity”
–Pope Benedict XVI.
These are words that I find a lot of comfort in, Papa Benedict has always reminded me of a grandparent who shares great wisdom in few words and makes you feel better about yourself very quickly. Here he makes me feel safe knowing that my calling though it may be hard is for my greater joy and will bring me to God’s grace.
A few times now I’ve been told I’d make a good priest. Now my initial reaction has always been one of mortification, the first time it happened in fact I struggled to sleep that night out of fear I had found my calling – which is actually quite ironic now when I look back on it! Currently (at least) I am not discerning the priesthood, but in my line of work as a catholic youth worker I am surrounded naturally by many people who are considering the religious life as priests or nuns. But only recently, while I was in Rome, upon hearing a friend of mine being complimented as he was told that he would be a great priest, a new perspective was opened up to me.
This in fact in a huge compliment! To even be compared to a priest is to say one imitates Christ! And this goes for nuns too, and all those who offer their life in service of God.
If you have ever been on the receiving end of this statement you will know the mix of confusion, fear and joy that it brings – if not I can tell you it is genuinely terrifying, but in fact these words reveal a simple truth about the person they are spoke about.
Priests for example are leaders of people, they guide them like a counsellor, they educate them like a teacher and most of all they care for them like – as the title reveals – a father. Therefore to be told one would make a good priest implies one would naturally be good at some, if not all of those things too.
So maybe someone’s vocation may lie in one of those, or the countless other professions that a priest has the innate qualities of. And all of these things can be performed in offering to honour and glorify God, so we need not fear our vocation, simply by doing what we excel at is pleasing to God.
Nuns too, similarly reflect the image of Christ through their actions. What does it mean to be a sister? It is to teach, to console, to love, to be an equal to those they serve, much like a sibling does. The same also for a religious brother, having met some recently for the first time, there calming and simple way of life immediately made me feel at home in their friary and I really knew these were my brothers in Christ.
So there need not be a fear about being told one would make a good priest or nun or brother, in fact it is something to revel in. These figures are hugely respected and embody so many good qualities that they bring us closer to Christ by simply being in their presence and listening to their words. But we should not feel pressured into religious life simply because people say it would suit us in 1 Corinthians 12 it says “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit” and this says to me that Jesus has filled us all with his Holy Spirit but it is up to us, with his help, to discern how he wants us to use these gifts and that is where we will find our calling be it religious, employment, or in the family.
I therefore ask you to go out and tell people they would be great in the religious life, because it is a most powerful compliment and who knows what they will take from it.
Written By Joseph Beattie, off of Walsingham House.