1. What does a priest do?
The purpose of a priest is to bring people to Jesus, and Jesus to people. He does this primarily by preaching the Word and offering the Sacrifice of the Mass. His daily life involves administering the sacraments—Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, Penance and Reconciliation, the Anointing of the Sick, and Matrimony (Holy Orders is reserved for bishops to administer)—and caring for the people in their daily needs.
2. What exactly is a “vocation?”
A vocation is a call from God to do something specifically for God and for His kingdom. The primary vocation of every person is to be holy! It is the divine calling to love and serve God, to obey His commandments, and to cooperate with Christ in the work of redemption by loving and serving others. But we are all called to a secondary vocation as well, a “state in life” in which we are to be holy.
3. What are some of these “secondary” vocations that I might be called to follow?
Many people are called to the vocation of marriage, but it is an error to automatically assume that this is your vocation. One may also be called to the vocation of the priesthood, to the religious life as a sister or brother, or to the diaconate. Finally, some follow Christ in the single state. Remember: It is normal to desire marriage and family. Just because you have this desire does not exclude the possibility that you have a vocation to the priesthood.
4. How do I know what God is calling me to do?
You must pray every single day, asking God to reveal His plan for you. Do not ask yourself, “What do I want to do when I grow up?” This is the wrong question! Rather, you should be thinking and asking: “Jesus, what do You want me to do?” And listen for the answer! The primary locus of revelation is the heart. Listen with your heart! The discernment process in the priesthood must also include the Church. The local bishop is the one who ultimately decides who is and who is not called. He is assisted in this by the vocation office and the seminary. This whole process is called “discerning one’s vocation.”
5. Can I be happy in my life if I do not follow God’s plan for me?
If you do not follow the vocation for which God made you, you can attain a certain degree of happiness in this world, and still attain salvation (go to heaven), but you can never be as happy as you might have been, had you followed your proper vocation. This is why it is so important that you discern correctly. Of course, there are trials and tribulations in every vocation. To become a priest does not take away all suffering. But there is great joy in laying down one’s life for Jesus!
6. Are most priests happy in their vocations—in their lives and in their work for Christ?
Most priests are extremely happy in their vocations! The life of a priest is a very rewarding life, both in this world and in the next. The media often gives an incorrect impression of priests… that they are largely unhappy, frustrated, and angry, or that most of them are sexual abusers. This is simply not true.
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