"Behold the days shall come says the Lord. Jeremiah 31,31
All these things, however, were done by way of preparation and as a figure of that new and perfect covenant, which was to be ratified in Christ, and of that fuller revelation which was to be given through the Word of God Himself made flesh. "Behold the days shall come saith the Lord, and I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel, and with the house of Judah . . . I will give my law in their bowels, and I will write it in their heart, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people . . . For all of them shall know Me, from the least of them even to the greatest, saith the Lord.
Being ‘Called to the Priesthood’ is not a term with which I am comfortable. Even the word ‘Vocation’ unsettles me. How then could I go through a process of discernment, pass through the seminary and be Ordained for priesthood if I have never heard the call?
My own thoughts on the subject are crystalised by a memory of attending mass in the parish during my time in seminary. The prayer for ‘Vocations’ was being said after communion and I remember feeling honoured with the prayers and at the same time unworthy of these prayers.
The question, looking back, was what was the core purpose of this prayer. I know now that we can’t conjure up the will of God since it is already there as gift. I believe the prayer was an expression of the desire for the days of the Lord. This pious moment wasn’t simply a call for more priests, it was the wider call of the people for the fullness of God’s reign.
The reign of God is when we ‘nurture in ourselves moral sensitivities that have special concern for those who are hurt or lost, that make room for the outcast, that are disposed to act towards others with mercy and forgiveness and that are inclusive of all.’ (Page 18 The Way of Goodness and Holiness, Richard Gula)
This ‘nurturing’, for us, takes place in the life of the church. In participating in the prayer for “Vocations’, I participated in the parish’s longing for the reign of God. Our prayers meanwhile cannot conjure up the reign of God since it is pure gift. What our prayer does is create the right disposition within us and within me to respond to this gift. The ‘Vocation’ as it is known is the fine-tuning of that disposition developed in the earliest school of prayer, which took place in the home, orientated in the life of the parish and given the DNA of esteem for the clergy.
The prayer is answered when all of us are given the courage to say yes to this offer of God’s reign. Then begins the journey of discovering the consequence and purpose of this yes in our lives. The consequence of my yes and the purpose given to it is that I am a priest.