The Call To The Priesthood
Originally published in January 1996
Have you ever considered the priesthood? Some may ask the reason for such a question, or even for the priesthood. After all, one can be holy and close to the Lord without being a priest. So, why bother?
The question is basic and clear. However, the emphasis is upside-down. The real question is not about MY choosing anything; the question is about GOD'S choice of me, and my willingness to serve Him as His priest. As He Himself tells His Apostles, the first priests, "You did not choose me. No, I chose you."
Why be a priest? Because it might please the Lord.
All are called to holiness and offered His grace by the Church. Such gifts are personally given by Christ to us through the services and ministry of His priest. Priests continue Christ's personal work on earth. Just as Mary's "yes" to God's invitation to participate in His work of salvation gave flesh to God at the first Christmas, so now a similar invitation to say "yes" to God's personal call to the priesthood allows His chosen men to put flesh on their faith, becoming priests in order to bring forth the presence of grace of the Eternal Son. When the priest absolves sins, it is God who forgives; when he celebrates Mass, it is Christ at the altar offering Himself anew; when he anoints the sick and prepares the dying, when he counsels the sorrowful, feeds the hungry, visits those in prison, houses the homeless, comforts the poor, works for justice and peace, it is the person of Jesus at work in the priest. All talents and training of the priest are useful to spread the Word of God. Whether trained as a plumber, doctor, carpenter, lawyer, architect or journalist, all talents, skills and knowledge are useful in preaching the Word. Your ministry may lead you to parish work, or to teaching, preaching the Gospel in the latest of communications media, or to a variety of other ministries, bringing Christ to all, wherever and however possible.
You may ask, "If I become a priest, what about my family?" Well, they may balk. Mine did. They were all quite unsure about my sanity when, at age 18, I announced my decision to be a priest. Couldn't I be just as happy if I lead a "normal" life, with a wife, kids and a secure job? Maybe. But these 18 years of the priesthood have been the happiest of my life, with no doubts and certainly no regrets.
What about friends, who will poke fun at you and ask "You? - - a priest!?" My friends did the same. But once I entered the seminary, many of them returned to the Church thinking that if I was willing to make such a radical statement by a life of celibacy and obedience, then maybe this Jesus and His Church should be taken more seriously.
Why the priesthood? Because it would please the Lord. After all, it is a matter of love. If you love Him tremendously, then possibly He is calling you to give Him the best you have -- your very self for the salvation of the world. Give me a call at the St. John Fisher Seminary Residence. It's not a seminary. It's a place where men, between the ages of 18 and 40, come to consider the priesthood in an atmosphere of prayer and study. No obligation, no hassle, no cost. There are 27 men here this year. Give me a call (COLLECT) -- Fr. Stephen DiGiovanni, (203) 322-5331. Ask me some questions, gather some info. It may be the best telephone call you will ever make.
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