Sunday, February 9, 2014

Discerning a Vocation...

The Saint John's Seminary Community was honored to welcome these men for Mass this morning as they completed a three day discernment retreat.  Monsignor Moroney preached the following homily:

So, here you are, at the conclusion of the discernment retreat, sitting in a Seminary, where, God willing, you may someday sit each morning and each evening, discerning God’s will and seeking to be formed in his image and likeness.

Why?  Because you think God might be calling you to be a priest.  And what does that mean?  To be a Priest?  

To be so conformed to Christ Jesus, that it is no longer you, but Christ Jesus in you. To be so conformed to Christ Jesus that you can celebrate the sacrifice once offered on the altar of the cross and now, through your hands, “for our good and the good of all his Holy Church.”

To be so conformed to Christ that you might speak his word, in season and out…with your lips, but his words…your emotions, but his heart…your mind, but his truth.

To be so conformed to Christ that you can shepherd a people, urging them on, seeking out the lost and carrying them home, leading them to green pastures and still waters, and so imbued with their smell that for love of them you would lay down your life.

What does it mean?  To be a Priest?

It means to hear him call my name…in the still quiet of the night, and to answer...You!  Yeah, you!  Come and follow me.

The life of a Priest is pure grace, seldom easy, but always exquisitely beautiful. I wish I could tell you what it feels like to hear a penitent weep when welcomed home after 35 years of being lost. I wish you could know what it’s like to give viaticum, anoint in faith, and commit a soul to God as she breathes her last breath. 

To be and be called “Father,” to so many, to be called to preach the Gospel with conviction and joy, to be invited to bring Christ’s healing presence and truth to the most intimate pains of the human heart. 

And most of all, to join the sacrifices of your lives to the one perfect Sacrifice of Christ offered upon this altar, and to receive the power through Christ to transform mere bread and wine into his own Body and Blood. To stand behind that altar before which I was ordained, and to offer the sacrifice which is the source and the summit of each and all of our lives. 

In almost thirty years, I have never doubted, even for a moment, that God chose me to be a Priest. Oh there have been good days and not so good days, trials and temptations, fears and exhaustions. But all that goes with being a human, and it is in my humanity, and with my weaknesses, and even with my sinfulness that God has chosen me to be your Priest and to make me strong in Christ.

God has called me to be his priest, not because I am strong or I am smart or I am so very bright, but because he looks upon me, just like his Blessed Mother, he looks upon me in my littleness and raises me up.

He calls me, as Paul says today “in my weakness and my fear and my trembling, to rely not on my weakness, but on his strength,
to trust not in my foolishness, but on his wisdom and to rely not on my selfishness, but his perfect love. He has called me to share my bread with the hungry and shelter the oppressed and the homeless. He has called me to be the light of the world and to shine before others, that they may see his good deeds and give him glory. He calls.  I answer.

How did I know I was called to such a life?

For me, it started when I was in High School, it started when God began to call my name, just as he called Samuel. And, like Samuel, it took me a long time to answer. But that never stopped God from calling. 

It started with prayer. I can remember when I would walk home from Millbury Memorial High School, I’d stop almost every day in Saint Brigid’s Church and just sit there and stare at the little red light over the tabernacle. And no matter what pains or confusions or adolescent angst was coursing through my veins that particular day, that light told me that Jesus was still there, and still calling my name, and still waiting for me to answer him. 

So, eventually, and slowly and with stops and starts and plenty of detours, I sought him out, and heard his words: “Follow me...come see where I live.” 

Follow me to green pastures and still waters where prayer will refresh your weary soul. Follow me to the cross and join all your sufferings to my sacrifice upon the cross.  Follow me in loving others as I have loved you, without counting the cost and unto death.  Follow me, and me alone, renouncing the world and all that might keep you from me.  Follow me.