What are you afraid of?

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The temptation when you’re thinking and praying about your call in life is to find excuses. We find all sorts of reasons for not admitting we might be called to priesthood or religious life. If that sounds like you, you’re in good company.

Look at God’s people in scripture and how at first they resisted their calls. Jeremiah protested, “I’m too young.” Moses said, “I can’t speak; I stutter . . . ask my brother.” Mary asked, “How can this happen to me?” Peter argued, “Lord, leave me. I’m a sinful man.” And so on. What are your excuses?

Here are the most common, along with my responses.

I’m not holy enough.
Who is? God’s attention and love, or baptism or a church vocation, all are pure gifts from God.

I’m afraid I’ll fail.
So who doesn’t experience failure at times? Peter failed bitterly but later repented and ultimately succeeded greatly.

I’ve made mistakes.
I’m a sinner. Who hasn’t? Who isn’t? That’s why we enjoy God’s gift of forgiveness.

I’m not talented enough.
I think our talents are treated in the same manner as the loaves and fishes. We give God what we have and then watch it transformed into what is needed for ministry.

I don’t feel comfortable with all the positions of the institutional church.
Great saints have challenged the church in the past, and great Catholics do the same today.

I could never stand up and speak in front of a crowd.
That was my greatest fear when I entered the seminary, but training, practice, and the grace of God have helped me overcome it.

I’m afraid of making a permanent commitment.
I find that formation programs give us the time and space to really examine priesthood or religious life before we make a commitment. “Formation” is a preparation period consisting of classes, ministry, and prayer. It takes place before we get ordained or make vows. Remember, as the spiritual writers James and Evelyn Whitehead have said, “Vocation is an ongoing conversation with God.” God doesn’t ask for guarantees, only the will to keep on trying one day at a time.

Father Joseph Hornacek is an assistant priest at St. Catherine of Alexandria parish in Milwaukee, WI.




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