Called to Sanctify
The priesthood is a calling, a voice heard, spoken by the creator of all. The scriptures are full of examples of the nature of being called by God to follow him, here are but a few examples.
Gen 12:1-4 Call of Abram: Leave your country, your family, and come…
Mk 3:13 The Mission of the Twelve: “He summoned those whom he wanted and they came to him”
Jn 15:9-17 You did not choose me; no, I chose you
The priesthood is an invitation to follow and find life. The call is one to sanctify, to make holy. This begins as a personal invitation. The one being called is to prepare the ground for God to dwell within.
So I would say if you discern that God is calling you to the priesthood then look at the life you are leading, immerse it in the person of Christ. Do this through prayer, reading and praying scripture, by going to the source of life in the Eucharist and adoring and worshipping there. Make holy and sanctify yourself by thinking of others first, allow Christ to seep into the very pores of your being and realise from the earliest point that you are not worthy, you never will be, for it is not the self that is proclaimed to the world, but Christ. There is nothing attractive about proclaiming the ego to the world!
I felt called to the priesthood when I was 17 and happily working. I was at that stage, not in love with Christ, nor would I say at that early stage of being called, did I want to know Christ very much. There were other things that held my attention, and Christ was not really one of them. Christ called and my life changed. So that from not caring much about Christ, I developed a thirst to know him, and flowing from that, I came to experience being love by him.
The call from Christ has not gone silent in my life as a priest, as that call continues every day subsequently. Admittedly it is often far away in the background of life, but Christ is constantly calling, encouraging me to seek to sanctify and begin with self. So that everyday I am to start again. I am not to despair but to hope> I am not to choose death, I am to choose life! The call is to know Christ more deeply, and to become more aware of how loved by Christ I am. So the first aspect of being called to sanctify, is to begin at the source, to start with yourself.
I am called to sanctify, as a priest. I find that this is the expectation of the ministry I am called too. I am to stand at the altar, as a bridge between heaven and earth. This is the very heart of what the call to sanctify holds. I am to serve Christ, to do his bidding, to pray his words at Mass. I am to stand trembling in his shoes and bring the reality of the presence of Christ to others. Everything else in my priestly ministry flows from this. The preaching, the teaching, the care of the sick, the compassion, the empathy, the presiding at baptisms, at weddings, at funerals, all the day to day serving, the input made to schools, the answering of telephone calls or emails, the grinding maintenance of parish life, the joy of sharing life with others, all flows from the call to sanctify. It all comes from the privilege to celebrate the Mass.
Leading a parish community in faith, flows from serving Christ, by being aware daily of the call to sanctify. I am to sanctify by allowing Christ into my living, and then to serve by daily answering the invitation to follow Christ. From this I invite Christ to flow through me. I invite Christ into my living when I am willing to cooperate with his grace and I do so even when I am dull or uninspired, or tired or cynical, or weary. The call to sanctify is cemented in the call to serve. And this call is rooted in Christ, who is the one who calls, the one who loves and the one who plants and sustains hope. So I pray…
Lord, I am called to sanctify, to make holy, to prepare a place for you, the author of life.
Lord, I am called to serve with humility, with simplicity, so as to prepare a place for you.
Lord, I am called to life, to find its fullness in you, so as to prepare for it’s eternal reality.
Make me Holy Lord, for my holiness comes from you alone. Amen