Dear Father Angelo,
I am writing to you because I am a poor sinner in search of light and help. Having read your beautiful answers and talked to other people, I came to know that you are a very knowledgeable person.
In this period, without being able to go to a priest, I really feel put to the test.
I am 17 years old. It has been a while since I have been feeling that maybe God is calling me to become a priest. There is something in me that lets me think this way. The problem is that I feel I am afraid of this vocation. In this case, indeed, I don’t know, I could reject it, I will say no to God, and this situation puts me in distress.
I think: «and if God calls me, what do I do? ». When I feel so concerned and upset, I try to meditate and to be calm to better think and decide. Then I think: «What is it like to be a priest? Would I like it? Is that what I want? ». Here, the answers I give to myself are: «yes, it would be nice, but just for what concerns the act of serving God and doing good works». However as far as the rest is concerned,it doesn’t attract me much.
Indeed, serving God and doing good works is something I can do in another project that I have for my life, let’s say “my project”, which, who knows, maybe is inspired by God. To study medicine, to become a great neuroscientist, then also doing a PhD in neurosciences, aiming for a university chair in this field and directing research. I am passionate about this world, I have already developed some theories on my own and conceived paradoxes, something that (I actually discovered) were in a certain way first conceived by Descartes and Spinoza, who I am currently studying at school. Indeed, in this way I can also serve God, in this way I can also do good works. Another small dream I have is going to help homeless people on the streets.
Some weeks ago, the priest who I usually visit told me to follow my way, and above all to follow what “my way” really means
I think that what “my way” really means is following the path of becoming a neuroscientist. But beware, nothing in my life will have any meaning if I do not face it with Jesus, for Jesus and in Jesus.
I want to do “my” project in the faith and for the glory of God, I want to go distribute duvets on the street for the love of God.
However I think «is it really like that? Is this God’s plan for me? Is this my way? » And a specific question that I asked myself after reading some things about it is: «what if the belief that this is my way were the result of inspiration by an evil spirit? ».
And here I stop, unable to do everything, to study, to think, to be happy and smile. Then, in my life, when I was very young, around the age of 8, I started to cry thinking that I would have said “Yes” if He had called me, but a “yes” said in the sense of: “what should I do?” I tell Him «yes », «if He calls me, I will go there » (to be a priest).
Then once, one or two years ago, another priest, the one who was there before the priest who recommended me to search what “my way” really means, asked me «why don’t you go to the seminary? ». I don’t know for what reason, if it was the Holy Spirit or my guardian angel, I knew that he would have asked it to me as soon as he had seen me. I don’t know what that means.
Another priest, very good, who is now in another country, told me that before talking about vocation it would have been better to have a girlfriend. From that moment I had a girlfriend and we were together for some time but it didn’t work,.I kept in touch with this girl, and honestly, at some point I would like to fall in love and get married. I have tried it and the opportunity to love each other is a great gift that God has given to humans. If I have written so much it is to give you all the information about me, so at least I can say that you know everything that there is to be known. I need help, I am a person who plans and wants to have goals to reach before acting, because I have to know where to go in order to act, because otherwise I go adrift.
Help me, please.
Response from the priest
1. There is a great plan of God for you similar to the one desired for Abraham : «Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk (…) to a land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you» (Gn 12, 1-2). You are experiencing the period of your life when God is calling you for a great project. And the priest who told you to choose the correct one is right about this.
2. The Lord, however, does not yet tell you which is the land where you will fulfil your vocation. Just like he did with Abraham. He told him: «to[wards] the land that I will show you». He’ll reveal it to him in the future, along his way, as he goes.Abraham does not insist. He doesn’t say: «I want to know where you will lead me first». He trusts the Lord, he allows the Lord to hold his hand and goes ahead keeping himself permanently in an attitude of listening. Without knowing it, Abraham grew stronger and stronger in faith.
3. Now God is asking you to do the same: to set off. There is a plurality of potential calls, as mentioned in your email. However, which path you have to take is clear: you must make progress in the One who said: «I am the Way» (Jn 14: 6). Saying I am the Way and I am the path is the same thing. At a certain point, while making progress, the Lord will enlighten you and make you understand clearly what your vocation is.
4. To be more practical, the path you must take to grow in Christ is the one outlined by John Paul II at the end of the great Jubilee of the year 2000 in the letter Novo millennio ineunte. He outlined it in seven points and it is valid for the whole Church and for each of us.
5. The first point is holiness. This is the general goal to which the Lord calls us. Therefore the goal of our life is not wealth or indulging ourselves. It is not even pride, personal success or becoming the best at school. With reference to this, the Holy Pontiff spoke of the need to establish a pedagogy of holiness. Therefore, having almost reached the threshold of the active life and the moment in which you enter as an active member in the society and the Church, you too are called to establish a pedagogy of holiness for your personal growth.
6. And here are the elements of this pedagogy of holiness: the first is the life of prayer through which God is allowed to enter our life. Prayer consists in being together with the Lord, in enjoying his company to look at the events of our life with his eyes and above all in contemplating his face, in which the Angels are gazing. John Paul II says: «it would be wrong to think that ordinary Christians can be content with a shallow prayer that is unable to fill their whole life. Especially in the face of the many trials to which today’s world subjects faith, they would be not only mediocre Christians but “Christians at risk”» (NMI 34).
7. A method for being with the Lord, letting him enter our life, contemplating his face and looking at everything with his eyes is the daily prayer of the Holy Rosary. This prayer forces you to stop, to stay a quarter of an hour with the Lord, to make silence, to hear God in the silence of your soul. Here God will talk to you.
8. Then the Pope indicates Sunday Eucharist and Confession as indispensable elements of our path. I do not dwell on the Eucharist because its need is so evident. Instead, I spend a word for the Confession, made regularly and frequently and possibly always with the same confessor, so that he becomes like the Father of our soul. In these terms St. John Bosco spoke of it. Do it therefore at least every two weeks. It should be short, but it should be regular. It is a regenerative source.
9. John Paul II then speaks of the primacy of grace. The state of grace is irreplaceable in order to feel the presence of the Lord and to enjoy him. As a corpse neither feels nor enjoys, the same happens in the spiritual life to those who live without sanctifying grace. Likewise, the state of grace is absolutely indispensable so that our actions are already now universally effective and meritorious for eternal life. Jesus said: «Whoever does not gather with me scatters» (Mt 12,30). In other words, it wastes its existence.
10. The last two points of the path are the Listening to the Word and its proclamation . Listening to the Word is already a form of prayer because it is an encounter with the Lord, an enjoyment of his presence, a nourishment of him, letting oneself be invaded by his light and his feelings.
11. Spreading the Word is also essential. It is so in the same way that it is essential for the light to illuminate. The first proclamation, even before words, will already be made with your life, animated by faith and good works. Live in such a way that Christ can say of you: «You are the light of the world» (Mt 5:14). Then the Lord will put you on the candlestick (in our case it means that he will clearly indicate your vocation) so that you can illuminate the whole house.
12. In conclusion: for now, while remaining open to all vocations, set off like Abraham. If you follow the path the One who has called you, at a certain moment, like He did with Abraham, will make you feel in an indisputable and luminous way what land you must pitch your tent in.
I therefore wish you a good journey, a holy growth in Christ, who is the life of your soul and of each of us.
I gladly accompany you with my prayer and bless you.