Trusting In God's Providence
I was awoken from the not uncommon high school daze when in my junior year I was given the Pre-ACT and Pre-SAT and a seemingly endless stream of standardized tests all geared toward the future. College was in my future but I didn’t know what my future would hold.
I never avoided the notion of a vocation to religious life or the priesthood. Where others might have been nervous, I was intrigued. And, when thinking about my future, I naturally pondered if priesthood was my calling. It struck me then, as it does now, that every Catholic youth should instinctually be open to, and not afraid of, a calling to religious life and the priesthood. It is a great life – full of meaning and purpose.
I applied to Old College and made a formal visit in November of my senior year. I immediately sensed a family spirit; a sort of collegiality and brotherhood among the seminarians, brothers, and priests, which I would later discover for myself, is a hallmark of the Congregation of Holy Cross.
That first year in formation at Old College was a blessed one. There I was surrounded by fourteen other Collegian seminarians, six of whom were in my class. Together, we prayed Lauds each morning and Compline each night. Our days were busy with university classes and homework, ministry such as catechesis or visiting the infirmed, and socializing. And it was all centered on the Eucharist.
The daily rhythm of prayer was accompanied with spiritual direction every two weeks to a month and regular confession. And the priests and religious on the formation staff offered both encouragement and challenge as my classmates and I engaged in the uncertain but good work of discernment.
I distinctly remember a great difficulty I struggled with in that first year – was I really called to Holy Cross? I grew up with wonderful diocesan priests in my parish church just down the street. Had I abandoned my diocese – itself desperate for priests? And if indeed I was called to be a priest in a religious congregation, why Holy Cross? What about all the hundreds of other such communities that grace our Church? I was afraid of and paralyzed by the scandal of the particular. Christ entered our world in a particular place and at a particular time to encounter and engage those who, unlike St. Paul, were born in a timely manner. And it was all guided by God’s Providence.
The same Divine Providence guides every single one of us. God, who knows each of us by name and the number of hairs on our head, speaks to the heart. A great consolation of discernment is that we can hear more clearly His voice. My questions were answered through prayer and conversation. That first year, I had dinner with my bishop during Christmas vacation and he reminded me that since the days of the first disciples God sends people in mission. My calling wasn’t any sort of abandonment of the diocese. Rather it was an affirmation of the Congregation of Holy Cross and their dedication to parishes, education, and missions.
I give praise to God for the gift of my vocation to religious life and the priesthood, which He granted for my salvation and service to the Church. The Congregation of Holy Cross possesses a rich heritage of ministry and sacrifice for the good of the People of God. And there is so much more to do. I am grateful that I might contribute to it. It’s what my future holds.