The past three years in the Seminary have been the most exciting, affirming and contenting years of my life. I have gained brothers with whom I am making the journey towards Diocesan Priesthood, and I have gained a great many friends in the parishes and in the broader communities where that journey has taken me. Yes, the Priestly vocation is undoubtedly a superb journey that I think any young man, if he really knew what it was, whether he was called or not! would rightly see as a heroic and deeply fulfilling path to take.
I often say, though, that vocation is not the special privilege of Priests or of Consecrated Religious. No, no, NO! EVERYONE is called. The God who made us, restores us and calls us each by name (cf. Is 43:1; Rom 9:28). We, each and all, have a vocation. Now let’s not make this vague and mundane. God does not spam all of humanity with some generic vocational template, yours filled out with your particular details. NO! The call to each is utterly unique. My vocation is mine alone, and no one else can respond to it except me; your vocation is yours alone, and no one else can respond it except you. God calls each of us and waits for each of our responses. Question: Do we really believe this?
I would suggest that if we are experiencing a vocations crisis, it is chiefly because at some level we have stopped believing that “God is calling me…” It seems outrageous, doesn’t it? The God who created the entire cosmos out of nothing, is for some reason interested in me and what I’m doing with my life? Well, if we want proof of this, we need only ponder the mystery of Christmas just celebrated. The Creator became part of creation, and dwelt among us – and dwells with us still. Saint Augustine says that God is closer to you than you are to yourself! Yes, you can be very sure that the same God who made everything determinately makes you the centre of his attention. He loves you, and He is calling you.
IF all this is true, and God is calling me… What is that call? How can I hear it? How will I know? What will I do? The process of discernment is a serious undertaking. It requires a listening heart; sitting and listening to God’s Word, spending time in silent adoration, reading good, spiritual material, speaking with Priests and Religious about what is going on in our hearts. It requires us to become familiar with the voice of the Good Shepherd, and to know and trust and love that voice enough to say “Yes,” and to continue saying ‘Yes’ all our lives.
You are called. Will you stop, listen, and respond?
Written by Ashwin Acharya
Ashwin Acharya is a Seminarian at the Holy Spirit Seminary based in Brisbane. To read more of Ashwin’s work you can follow him on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ashwineacharya/