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What are the signs of a vocation to the priesthood?

March 22, 2022

by Father Steven Huber, CSB

“How do I know if I am being called to priesthood or religious life?” This question is very common among discerners. The answer to this question may be different for each person, but there are still some common signs that can point to an answer. These signs can inform one’s discernment and help them to hear the voice of the Lord calling to them.

One of the more powerful signs is to pay attention to what other people see in you or say about you. The people in our lives such as teachers, parishioners, co-workers, and friends, often have a way of seeing gifts present in a person and calling those gifts out. Have you ever had a person ask you about priesthood or religious life, or tell you that you would be a good priest or religious? That can be a sign that God is calling you to serve him- especially if several different people are saying the same thing!

Another sign can be found by reflecting on the true longings of your heart. What feelings arise when you think about priesthood or religious life? Are they feelings of fear and dread, or feelings of peace and longing? Does reflecting on priesthood and religious life fill you with a deep desire to be of service to others, and to follow Christ in a radical way? Even if those feelings aren’t present at first, if you find them growing in you over time, that can be a sign of God’s call.

It’s also important to be aware of how different events of your life may be guiding you towards a vocation, or to the place where you need to be to hear God’s call most effectively. For example: When I graduated from university, I had no plans to move back to my hometown. I ended up moving back, however, because I was offered a job teaching music at a middle school, and none of my other plans had panned out. This allowed me to reconnect with my childhood parish, and with the new pastor there, who became my first spiritual director. As I continued to explore priesthood, it felt like God was removing all the obstacles before me, to truly allow me to embrace the path towards priesthood and religious life. If you sense the same thing happening in your life, that is a sign that God is leading you down the path he has chosen for you.

Above all, when discerning one’s vocation, it is important to remember the words of St. Irenaeus of Lyons, who said that “The glory of God is human beings fully alive.” Our vocation should be that place where we can truly be ourselves, and truly exist as God has called us to. It should be a place where we grow and flourish, by allowing God to lead us closer to him.

May God continue to bless you as you discern your vocation. May he open your ears to hear his call and give you the grace to respond to that call in love.

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