Thursday, January 24, 2008

I Want To Be A Jesuit

How Do You Know What Your Vocation Is?
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,It's good to be back writing again for this blog, after a long semi-absence due to illness this fall and winter.After reading some of the recent posts, I thought I'd adress a topic that would be of use to many of us, which is the topic of discernment.
For those of you who are either second-guessing your vocation, or unsure if you're called to the priesthood and/or religious life, I was once in your boat as well, for many years.
When I was 15 I first felt called to the priesthood, but I ran from the calling for 4 years, because I did not feel worthy of such a calling, and I was scared. I decided I would do things my way and become a doctor and serve the Lord that way. High School came and went, and even though my grades were good, I still felt empty and sad inside. I knew something wasn't right, and over freshman year in college I tried to figure that out.
After meeting some seminarians at St. John Vianney Seminary, the college seminary at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, where I was (and still am) studying, I realized over time that God calls ordinary men to serve Him in extraordinary ways, and that I shouldn't feel unworthy of such a calling.
I realized where I was called, but I was still in the habit of trying to do things my way, and so I entered discernment with the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, but I was turned down by the vocations director for formation at St. John Vianney College Seminary. I was devastated, I thought the vocations director was being unfair, but, while sitting at Mass that same day at noon, the song "Deep Within" by David Haas touched me. Now, I'm not a huge fan of David Haas' music, but there are a few songs that have touched me that he wrote, and one of them is Deep Within. Its message was that if you follow God, He will lead you to where He is calling you. Later that day,
I remembered my parents had spoken of the Jesuits as a possible order to look at. I have now been in discernment with the Jesuits for 10 months, and have gone on a Come and See Weekend with them, and visited the Jesuit novitiate here in Saint Paul, Minnesota several times.
I have friends there, and the priests and novices there love it when I visit. I have never been happier in my life, and there is something about that religious order that resonates with me in a way that SJV did not. Now that I look back on my experience with SJV, there was something there that made me feel uncomfortable, whereas with the Jesuits I have no anxieties other than the prospect of not being accepted by them, but that's a risk I'm willing to take. So, to those of you uncertain of or second guessing your vocations, the only way to find your vocation is spiritual direction, an active prayer life, and service work.
My recommendations are as follows:
1. Find an old priest you can trust to be your spiritual director and guide you on your vocational journey. You'd be amazed at how much a spiritual director can help you
2. Attend Mass daily as often as possible: The Eucharist bestows profound grace that is essential in any vocational discernment
3. Pray the Liturgy of the Hours: I'd be happy to help you learn how to pray them if need be, and your spiritual director could show you how as well. The Liturgy of the Hours is essential to the life of any priest or religious
4. Trust what God seems to be telling you through the inner workings of your heart: If you're not sure if your feelings are from God or from something else, ask your spiritual director or a trusted friend, priest, or religious.
5. Take comfort from the words of our late Holy Father, Pope John Paul the Great:"Let Yourself be summoned by the love of Christ, recognize his voice which rings in the temple of your heart. Have no fear of the fact that the response He requires is radical, because Jesus, who first loved you, is ready to give what he asks of you.If He asks much it is because He knows that you can give much."
6. I'm in the same predicament as you are, and so are the other members of this blog. We don't know for sure where we are called, we are just following where God seems to be leading us, so don't be afraid to ask if you need someone to talk to. We're all in the same boat, and myself and the other members of this blog are here to support each other and our fellow brothers and sisters in discernment.
7. Trust that God will lead you to where He is asking you to serve Him. If you don't, you'll never find your vocation.
8. Realize that discernment takes time: I learned it the hard way, and I'm still not 100% sure where God is leading me. However, I'm willing to follow Him wherever He may lead me in life, and if that means becoming a Jesuit, that's fine. If that means being someone's dad someday, then that's fine too. May God bless your discernment, and grant unto you the grace and means to follow wherever He may be leading you, now and eternally.Your friend and brother in Christ and companion on the road of discernment,

Land O Lakes Jesuit

+ Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam +

Link to Holy Vocations blog post entitled How Do You Know What Your Vocation Is?


liturgy said...

Thanks for the mention of the Liturgy of the Hours.
Here is a simple introduction which will grow in 2008:

LandOLakesJesuit said...

You're welcome, and please pray for me. I strongly feel called to the Jesuits and the Roman Catholic priesthood, and hopefully, God willing, someday I'll be a Jesuit. I'm not 100% certain that I'm called to the Jesuits, but something resonated in the deepest depths of my heart upon visiting the Jesuit novitiate that leads me to believe that the Holy Spirit is leading me on this path to a vocation as a Roman Catholic Jesuit priest.
I don't know why something resonated, and maybe I'll never know why, but I know if I don't follow where I feel led by the Holy Spirit, I will be unhappy for the rest of my life, just like I was when I ran from God's call for four years.