What does a call from God sound like?
God does not usually speak directly to us through a loud booming voice coming out of the sky. God often speaks in a much simpler manner. God speaks through experiences that are very accessible to us. Here are some common ways God speaks to us about his plan for our future:
1) God speaks to us through the words of the Bible.
God can give us direction about our future when we spend time reflecting on the words of the Bible. Some helpful ways to hear God’s voice through the Bible include: using a daily Biblical devotional, utilizing the lectio divina method of prayer, and listening attentively to the readings during Mass while asking the question: “What is God saying to me today?”
2) God speaks to us through our heart.
When we are making decisions about our future God often gives us a sense in our gut about what is the right or the wrong path for us to choose. God often gives us a sense of peace about the right path. The wrong path often leaves us feeling unfulfilled or empty.
3) God speaks to us through our mind.
God gave us the gift of reason to think through decisions about our future. God often shows us the right path to choose as we take time to think and reflect on questions like: Which of my options will make me a better Christian? Which of my options will help me grow in my relationship with Jesus the most? Which of my options will help me serve others in a meaningful way?
4) God speaks to us through the Church.
God uses the voices of priests, youth ministers, teachers, mentors, parents, family members, and Christian friends to give us guidance. Taking time to talk through our options with a trusted mentor can help us better see how God is acting in our life and trying to lead us in a particular direction.
The local bishop, through the director of The Office for Diocesan Priestly Vocations, has a special role in helping a man discern if God is calling him to serve the Church as a diocesan priest. To speak to the Director of the Office for Diocesan Priestly Vocations please contact him here.
STAGES OF A CALL TO THE PRIESTHOOD
Some seminarians and priests find their consideration of priesthood begins at a very young age, while some are older when they first consider this type of life of service. For many, the role of parents and families in nurturing their faith is foundational to hearing God’s call. The witness of priests who faithfully embrace this life and ministry often fans the flame of vocation. Individuals who affirm a man’s gifts and invite him to consider priesthood can provide necessary encouragement. Vocation programs and events that nurture one’s prayer life as well as provide information about priesthood become especially important as a man matures and grows closer to a vocational response.
SUGGESTIONS FOR THIS STAGE
a life of prayer that includes daily reflection on the Scriptures, weekly Mass (more often if possible), regular confession, and spiritual reading
service and involvement in one’s parish in areas of liturgy, education, and service
contact with priests and/or seminarians, both on a formal and informal level
participation in vocation awareness activities and retreats
“Discernment” is the process of sorting through different possibilities. One common mistake men make in the discernment of their vocation is to attempt to complete their discernment totally on their own. Healthy discernment requires potential candidates to be in prayerful dialogue with God and with the Church. This dialogue is especially important because today “there is…a certain tendency to view the bond between human beings and God in an individualistic and self-centered way, as if God’s call reached the individual by a direct route, without in any way passing through the community” (Pastores dabo vobis, no. 37).
Before applying to a seminary, a man first works with a vocation director who helps him seek personal clarity through a number of conversations, reflections, and experiences. The director and the discerner may embark on this path for several months or even years. As the man addresses significant questions and concerns for himself, the vocation director equips him with healthy tools for discernment. The director also assists him by identifying traits and qualities that suggest the possibility of priesthood or may raise significant concerns that suggest otherwise. The relationship between the man and the director is built on trust and openness to God’s divine will.
SUGGESTIONS AT THIS STAGE:
continued development of a life of regular prayer
regular meetings with a spiritual director who can assist in the discernment
participation in discernment weekends sponsored by seminaries used by the Diocese of Toledo
participation in Andrew dinners with the Bishop and/or other priests of the diocese
individual seminary visits (arranged between prospective candidate, the Vocation Director and the seminary)