For someone discerning the priesthood, Christmas can be a truly remarkable time. Of course it is a remarkable season for anyone, but in a very real way, Christ reveals himself to men contemplating the question of priesthood. He invites them to look upon Him in a new way. Just as He was made flesh and dwelt among us so long ago, He is present today—dependent on His priests to bring Him to the world.
The simple fact that Christmas falls at the end of the calendar year brings to mind the “year in review” and thoughts of what will come next year. For the man discerning the priesthood, this can both help and hinder his thoughts. It is important for those discerning to not get carried away by the emotions and nostalgia of the holiday season, but instead allow it to bring them into a greater understanding of what the Lord is calling them to do for Him, His Church, and their life.
For the men who have come home on winter break from college or grad school, a break in routine can be good, but can also pose a challenge. The extra time to relax and unwind a bit, not worrying about classes can bring a much needed sigh of relief. However, returning home tends to bring about thoughts of the past and hopes for the future. Meeting up with old friends and reminiscing about what they used to do in high school, thinking about the girls one used to date can all easily become a distraction. When on a break from school, daily prayer and Mass routines can be shaken a bit, so it is important to keep those things at the center of time spent at home.
Extra time at home can allow for a trip to your neighborhood parish each day for a holy hour and Mass. You can meet up with your parish priests whom you have not seen all year and talk to them about how they have influenced your discernment and ask for their prayers.
For the discerning man who lives and works away from home but returns to his home town for Christmas and New Years can face situations similar to the young man home from college. The questions about his future will very much be present in his mind as you discuss “what you do” for a living with old friends and family members. Many times others’ reactions can cause doubt in God’s call to the priesthood. It could be as simple as someone saying, “I wish I had your job,” or “That sounds awesome, if I were you, I would never leave that job.” And while many enjoy their jobs, for the man considering priesthood, he knows in the back of his mind that only one thing truly fulfills him. The questions and uncertainty can mount, so it is very important to maintain a prayer life, attend Mass, and meet up with a hometown priest.
Whatever your state in life, Christmas for the discerning man can bring about challenges in discernment, but it can also bring to life the Word made flesh.
What a beautiful season to be discerning the priesthood!
What a wonderful season to ask the question for the first time!
The Word of God became flesh, became present to the world. One of the greatest mysteries of our faith as Catholics, in a very unique way, God becomes present every day on the altars of our churches and chapels. It is only through the priest that this is done. This reality can strike any man at any time. The fact that Christ is made present to his people through His priests is as awesome as God making Himself present through Mary by the working of the Holy Spirit. How awesome to be a part of God’s mystery! How awesome to be His hands and feet. How awesome to cooperate in God’s Word becoming flesh.
From all of us at the Vocations Office to all men discerning:
Our prayer is that anyone considering priesthood may take the opportunity to draw closer to Christ this Christmas season. May reflecting upon Mary’s yes, the Word becoming flesh, and Christ’s presence help bring clarity to all discerning the priesthood. We pray that confusion and uncertainty will not cloud their minds and hearts. Instead our hope is that these men reflect upon Christ—alone, vulnerable, cold, and completely dependent in the manger. He is depending on His priests to bring Him to others in a mysterious and awesomely unique way.
This blog will contain resources, reflections, homilies, and articles to help you in your discernment.