Sometimes I wonder how many calls to the priesthood have gone unanswered. I sometimes feel that I could be counted among those whom have ignored or failed to answer such a call.
I recall an experience I had around the age of ten. I constructed an altar in my attic and even made a thurible out of an old Campbell’s soup can and a string in order to incense the altar. Oh, yeah, I would light up a Kingsford charcoal briquette in that can and incense around the altar before pretending to celebrate Mass. Wow, if my Mom only knew how many times a house fire was imminent! I was an altar boy at the time and loved to serve at Mass and pray the responses in Latin, even though I didn’t understand half of what I was saying. I memorized all of the Latin responses in order to be able to serve. Was this a call to the priesthood? I’m not certain, but looking back, it sure doesn’t seem like normal activity for a ten year old boy.
Fifty years have passed since that initial “calling,” yet despite being a father of seven children and a husband, something still stirs in my heart when I’m at Mass and participate attentively as I observe the celebrant, through the grace conferred through the sacrament of Holy Orders, become instrumental in changing the ordinary gifts of bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord.
I write this post in hopes of reaching out to all the young men who think they may have experienced a call to the priesthood. If you think you are being called, please don’t ignore or dismiss it. Pray about it and follow up on it by speaking to your parish priest, spiritual director, or diocesan director of religious vocations, parents and grandparents. Let us all pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood, as well as for all the priests and religious throughout the world whom have answered the call!