It is without a doubt that God has already planned a vocation for us. Whether it is the married life, the single life, or the religious life, God has called each and every one of us to something. For some, we find out about our vocation rather easy and for others, it will be a little harder. But in my experience, I have found that God tells us what he has in store for us, such as our vocation, through signs throughout our lives.
One sign that God gave me nudging me towards discerning the priesthood was the old ladies at my parish. After altar serving for Mass, I would come out of the back room and there they were, three old ladies in the middle of the aisle having smalltalk. I would make my way outside but not before bumping into them. They would pull me to the side, pinch my cheeks, and tell me to pursue the priesthood and that they would pray for my vocation. For a good part of two years, I would dismiss them by awkwardly laughing following with a “we’ll see”.
Another sign that led me to the priesthood was the consecration of the Eucharist. It was during Mass where the encounter with God, through the priest, happened. As the priest was consecrating the Eucharist, there was something in the back of my mind that told me, “You can do this”. To this day, that thought has not left me and from then on, I would always be fascinated by the consecration of the Eucharist and I would always recite the doxology with the priest.
“Through Him, with Him, and in Him…”
But being stubborn for the better part of my life, that interest in the priesthood would never be discerned for also, the better part of two to three years.
Lastly, a sign or in this case, a person, that led me to discern the priesthood at the seminary was a seminarian named Randy Hoang (Look who got a shoutout). Randy, while I was trying to determine whether to enter the seminary or not, helped me make my decision easier while making life harder for him (:p). He helped me get into discernment retreats, come-and-see’s at the seminary, and encounters with fellow priests and seminarians that collectively made me enter the seminary, but as usual, all these people and events were people and things I dismissed for a period of time.
Now sitting at home in early July struggling whether I should enter the seminary or not and not realizing those signs at the time, I wanted God to help me out. I was watching the West Wing (a TV show based off the life of a presidency) and there was a scene that made me “jump off a cliff” (a lame anaology for describing my decision to enter the seminary…sorry, not sorry). It was in the episode where Jed Bartlet (The president) seeked guidance from a priest on his decision for capital punishment. To give context, Jed was seeking a sign from God (Jed was Roman Catholic) that would be able to give him justification to reverse the supreme court’s ruling to end the person’s life. Throughout the episode, it is seen that Jed and his staff were given reasons as to why the decision should be reversed, but ultimately, Jed did not change the decision, the person was executed, and Jed was angry at God for not giving him a “sign”. The priest then told Jed a story about the man who lived by the river:
There was a storm, the water level rose, and an announcement came over the radio urging locals to leave their houses before their homes were flooded. “Oh, no,” said the man confidently to himself, “I’m a religious man, I pray, God loves me, God will save me.”
Later on, the water level rose higher, and a man in a boat came along and called for the man to get into the boat. The man, however, denied the offer and stated: “I’m a religious man, I pray, God loves me, God will save me.”
Finally, the house was nearly flooded and a helicopter flew over the house and someone through the microphone said, “You down there! The town is flooding! Get in the helicopter and we’ll fly you to safety”. Again he refused, saying, “I’m a religious man, I pray, God loves me, God will save me.”
The man drowned…
…and standing at the gates of St. Peter he demanded an audience with God. “Lord,” he said, “I’m a religious man, I pray. I thought you loved me. Why did this happen?’
God in reply said, “I sent a radio announcement, a rowboat, and a helicopter. What the hell are you doing here?”
In our own lives, God sends us signs through the people or things around us. For me, it was those old ladies, the consecration of the Eucharist and a seminarian named Randy Hoang, that led to my decision to enter seminary to discern the priesthood. But it was not until early July (which is LATE to apply ANYWHERE) where I made my decision to enter and looking back, I should have asked myself: What the hell was I waiting for?
So my question(s) to you is: What is God calling you towards? Have you recognized the signs around you through the people and actions of those around you? If not, look at your past. If so, are you pursuing it? If not, what the hell are you waiting for?
If anyone is curious about the scene from the West Wing, here is the link to it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06dQaOZIcH0