What If God is Calling For You?

Author: M.B. Bonacci


At a time like this... when there are not enough priests, not enough religious sisters and brothers to give support and guidance, not enough contemplative religious to keep before people's eyes the sense of the absolute supremacy of God, we must be convinced that Christ is knocking at many hearts, looking for people like you to send into the vineyard, where an abundant harvest is ready." Pope John Paul II, Youth Forum Mass

Who become priests? Who become nuns? I always kind of thought priests and nuns as different--like they were priests and nuns when they were born. They weren't like you and me. They were set apart from the start. They didn't live normal teenage lives. They certainly weren't interested in the opposite sex or anything. They didn't date. They were priests, for Pete's sake.

Becoming a priest is something other people do, isn't it? Not something you'd think of. I mean, sure it's a great thing, I guess. You serve God, or whatever. But you? Nah? It's for other people.

Pope John Paul 1I says Jesus "knocks on hearts" looking for priests. Not just any heart. Certain hearts. Hearts He knows better than we do. Hearts He know beat in men and women whom He knows would serve Him well. Hearts He made particularly capable of serving Him well.

Has He ever knocked on your heart? "I wouldn't listen. don't want to know. I don't want to be a priest." Are you sure .

To the world, being a priest doesn't look too attractive You can't have a high-powered corporate career. You can't collect sports cars and yachts. And, yikes, you can't collect. women. You can't even have one. You have to give up sex Who on earth would want to do that?

But think about it from a little different perspective. As a Christian, what's the primary goal of life? Sports cars? Money? Women? No. As big a bummer as it may seem, our goal is quite simply to serve God, saving up for that big savings account in the sky. We're looking forward to that life to come, when we'll be happy forever. And it makes sense. You know the saying, "Whoever dies with the most toys, wins." No matter how much money or how many cars you've collected, once you're gone they all go to the taxman. They don't come along.

The thing is, most people realize that before they die. The more they collect, the emptier feeling they get--that the world told them that all of this would make them happy but it's not. These things just sit there, and don't bring fulfillment. They don't move us one bit closer to that final destination--the life that lasts forever.

But think of someone who lives this life with one foot in the next. Someone who's working day and night toward something that isn't going to go to the taxman in the end, but that's going to follow him into heaven. If heaven is happiness with God forever, then helping other people get there has to be pretty rewarding work.

I know living for the next life seems kind of like a "necessary evil," like saving up your money for something you want in the future, but having to suffer now and not buy anything you like. But look at the priests and Sisters you know. Do they look like they're suffering? Do they seem miserable?

Ironically, those who work for God are the ones who find the most happiness in this life. Why? Because God is love. And love is what we're all looking for. More than yachts. More than bucks. More than sex. And it follows that, by leading people to God, we're leading them to what they want most, real love in their lives. And that can't help but to rub off on us.

This is an age that is starved for God, starved for love. And God needs people to be His full-time hands and feet, leading people back to Him. So He knocks. He knocks on the hearts He wants to help Him. Is He knocking on yours? "No, He couldn't be. I like girls." Do you think God would like to have priests who dislike girls? Wouldn't be very good priests, would they? Girls wouldn't think so.

A lot of priests have told me that they had suspicions that God was calling them to be priests, but they were resisting because they wanted to get married. But when they finally fell in love, that's when they knew they had to be priests. Even though they had the perfect person, the person they would want to marry, they knew something still wasn't right. They heard the knocking. It was louder than ever. They couldn't ignore it. Romance and true love wouldn't quench it. God made sure they'd only be satisfied with Him. None of them have ever regretted it for a minute (although one did mention that he wishes God had called him "before I spent all of that time and money").

When God calls us, He gives a certain desire for what He's called us to. He wants us to be happy, and he made us to be happy at the vocation we're called to. It's not like, "Oh, man, I have to be a priest. Bummer." There are things we have to renounce of course, like the yachts. But once we let go and trust Him, He often gives a joy and a peace beyond comprehension. His vineyard is important to Him. He rewards those who tend it, both in this life and in the next.

Does being a priest or sister mean renouncing human love? Does it mean renouncing family? Look at the priests you know. The ones I know are surrounded by people who love them. The fact that they're renounced exclusive love and having one family hasn't shrunk their love, but multiplied it for everyone. They live lives of incredible love. Celibacy isn't about suppressing sexual energy. It's about rechanneling it--using that sexual energy to express intense, but non-sexual, love to many people. It doesn't contract love, it multiplies it.

And isn't that what we're all really after? ======================================================================== Bonacci is a frequent lecturer on chastity.

Published in the February 3, 1994 edition of the Arlington Catholic Herald, 200 N. Glebe Rd., Ste. 614, Arlington, VA 22203.