Frequently Asked Questions
about the vocation to the priesthood
What fuel is available for our spiritual journey?
A hugely valuable tool in discerning God’s will for your life is attending Mass on a frequent basis, ideally daily. You would be surprised how often during the Mass answers begin to emerge whether it’s from the readings, the homily, the prayers of the Mass, or just language of the Mass.
“It is worth more to attend a single Mass than to distribute all your riches among the poor and to make pilgrimage throughout the world.”
“Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to heaven.” St Pius X
Secondly, God guides us in a special way through the Scripture. Do you read the Bible carefully, prayerfully, and with the help of a good commentary? The Bible is one of the tools the Church has always recommended for determining what God wants for your life. Is there somebody in the Bible that you identify with? Do you connect with the life and writings of a particular saint? Somebody who walked a path like yours? Somebody who underwent a conversion like yours?
Jesus’ words to his disciples in chapter 15 of John’s Gospel remind us how dependent we are on our heavenly Father, whom we encounter especially through prayer and the Sacraments:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit.”
Our lives are a relationship with the Author of life. This relationship is especially nurtured through prayer, in which we enter into communication with God. Through daily prayer, for example reading the Scriptures and reflecting upon them, or praying the Rosary, we deepen our knowledge of God. By understanding God’s love for us it becomes easier for us to give ourselves completely to God with our whole lives.
Priests pray the Office every day and this is another powerful tool to connect with God. With the Office, every morning you find yourself working your way through the Bible or better yet, letting the Bible wash over you. The daily prayer of priests called the Office is available as an application for smartphone. This app is called Universalis and can be downloaded on your device. Alternatively, you can use the breviary, available at many Catholic shops and online. The Magnificat prayer booklets are also very high quality and include a section on the ‘lives of the saints’ which encourages us on our journey.
So three core practices are key for discernment: Mass, Scripture, and daily prayerful meditation on the Bible.
If I am attracted to the priesthood and priestly life, does that mean God is calling me to be a priest?
It is a good and strong sign that you might be called. It is a sure sign that you are called to discern the priesthood. If you feel this, some practical things are to go to Mass as often as you can, even daily. Make frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament seeking to know the will of God, go to Confession and seek the counsel of a good priest.
I’m not that ‘holy’. Can I still be a priest if I’m not very holy?
The question isn’t really ‘Can I still be a priest if I’m not very holy?’ but ‘Do I desire to grow in holiness?’ Holiness, which is living a life which models the life of our Lord is a process which we begin again every day and accomplish with the grace of God. Nobody ever reaches the point where they can say ‘Phew, I am holy now, time to quit growing in holiness.’ As long as you desire to grow in holiness every day, then you can still be a priest. If you go to Mass, pray, and seek the sacrament of Confession and, you will be amazed at the changes and how much you like the ‘new’ you. It isn’t really a ‘new’ you, but the person who you are supposed to be in the eyes of God.
“A blessing on the man who puts his trust in the Lord, with the Lord for his hope. He is like a tree by the waterside that thrusts its roots to the stream: when the heart comes it feels no alarm, it foliage stays green; it has no worries in a year of drought, and never ceases to bear fruit”.
(Jer 17: 7-8)
“We don’t go to Mass to give something to God, but to receive from Him that which we truly need”.
By telling us about himself, God invites us into a dialogue with him. Pope Benedict XVI teaches, “The word of God draws each of us into a conversation with the Lord: the God who speaks teaches us how to speak to him.” God wants us to know the deepest, most authentic love. By pouring over the Scriptures, we begin to discover the fullness of who God is, and in so doing we illuminate the mystery of who we ourselves are.