I hope by now you know how happy Fr. John and I are being priests. I’ve told many young men that, were I given the opportunity to choose my life over again, I’d be a priest. I just like it. It fits me.
Perhaps the biggest reason it feels right is that I think God wanted me to be a priest. It was His idea first . . . and then ever respectful of my freedom, God found ways to get me thinking about this way of life. It makes me happy to think God has an opinion about what we should do with our lives.
He never forced me with fear or guilt. God used natural, human things to get my attention . . . comments of people who knew me well, watching some priests who I liked a lot (seeing their happiness and humor), feeling a desire to help people, the staggering beauty of the world, realizing that we’re only here in this world for a while . . . all contributed to a growing feeling that God was calling me to live my life as a priest.
It wasn’t easy to hear God’s voice calling. It requires listening in prayer, a careful examination of your heart and its feelings, and hardest of all was trying to find “my heart’s desire.” In the end it came down to the Lord asking, “Tim, who will you give it all to?” And the answer – – though it took a while – – was, “I want to give it all to you Jesus. I want to be so filled up with you that all I want is to “be yours”. (I’m guessing this is how brides feel on their wedding day.) “And then Jesus, I want to share you with people and do the things that will help people get to heaven.” For me that said “be a priest.”
That’s my story in three paragraphs! It certainly wasn’t my mother and father’s story. It’s probably not your story either. Most people don’t have that odd appeal toward a celibate life lived for the purpose of spreading Christ’s Kingdom. I mean really, let’s face it, it’s pretty different.
But . . . your story and my story have that most important aspect in common, “Who will you die for?” Or, to put it in a milder way, what is there in your life that you would be willing to sacrifice it all for? That’s God’s invitation to you. That’s your vocation.
For my father it was a beautiful woman named Rosemary. For mom it was her husband and her children. And they did. They laid it down, for each other and for us children.
And do you know who in the end we all lay it down for? Teacher, parent, spouse, priest, musician, poet, carpenter, farmer, soldier, cop, nurse, bus driver . . . we are all called to lay it down for Christ.
Yes that’s right. You have a vocation to give your life to Christ, to be at His service each day of your life. The only problem is we don’t see him. Know why we don’t see Him? Because He’s hiding!
He’s hiding in the face of your spouse, your students, customers, friends, enemies, your children, your parents, your neighbor, your check out person, and yes, even the guy who cut you off in traffic! Yes, all human kind is united to Christ in the moment of the Incarnation and now in the Resurrection.
You get it right? “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.” Mk. 8:35 We are the only creature made by God that comes to understand their life by giving it away. That’s all of our vocations — to lay it down in love.
“Anyone who has given so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones . . . will not go without reward.” Mt 10:42
Happy autumn days!