Answering the Call

Monday, August 25, 2008

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ and companions on the road of discernment.
I apologize for not posting in many months, but I was struggling with some stirrings in my heart, that I will describe here in this post.
As most of you know, I was once in discernment with my archdiocese, but I tried to rush the process and, due to what I suspect were maturity reasons, was turned down for two years in March of 2007, with the option of revisiting discernment should I still feel called to the priesthood at the end of those two years.
Well, at that point I thought that it was finished: there was no way that I was called to be a diocesan priest
So,the past 18 months I have looked at religious orders, especially two that I thought that my parents would approve of, but that I had reservations regarding the discipline of, though I loved their charisms: The Jesuits and the Holy Cross Fathers.
However, these religious orders and I agreed that they were not a good fit, and I was saddened. The call to the priesthood remained as strong as ever, yet it didn't seem to be leading anywhere. I felt like I was lost in a vast desert, with no clear path out of it. It didn't help that, after my experience with the two religious orders I looked at, my parents were now adamantly opposed to the idea of my serving Our Lord as a priest.
I spoke with some wise priests that I had come to know, and described my situation. They told me to pray, and ask Our Lord for clarity, and to be patient.
When I first considered the call to the priesthood, I did so believing that I could be a priest and a professor, but, as a wise man I spoke with told me, what has happened these past 18 months means that you will have to chose. He asked me where my heart really lay, and if I could answer that question.
I knew the answer, and so at that moment I surrendered myself completely to God and gave up my former dream, and my parents' dream for me, of becoming a professor.
So, I continued to pray, and asked Our Lord for clarity. As I did so over the course of a month and a half, the idea of the diocesan priesthood suddenly arose in my head. This wasn't the first time that that had happened in the past 18 months, and it probably won't be the last.
However, I was worried of going through discernment with the same vocations director all over again, and so I got cold feet and did nothing. Then, I learned that a new vocations director had been appointed, and I spent time in prayer, asking Our Lord if He really wanted me to revisit discernment with my archdiocese. Well, my experiences in prayer and in conversation with others seemed to point toward revisiting discernment, so, about two weeks ago, I contacted the vocations office and spoke with the new vocations director.
I will be studying abroad in Rome for four months this fall, and hope to more fully discern this call while over there. Upon my return, I hope to be able to make a decision, at least short-term, regarding what I will do upon graduation from college this coming May. I continue to feel a strong call to the priesthood, but I may have to spend a year or two working off debt from student loans in order to enter a religious order or begin formation at a seminary.
I have a full year ahead of me to sort things out, though, including four months studying in Rome, and I look forward to all that is ahead.
Please know that all of you are in my prayers, and will be so in a special way during my study pilgrimage to the Eternal City.
May God bless you abundantly in all you do, now and eternally.
Your brother in Christ and discernment,
Michael

+Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam+

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