For those who are called to the Priesthood, there is nothing on Earth like it, and you will always feel like there is something missing in your role until you become a priest (“I have called you by name. You are mine”) (Isaiah 43:1). As a priest, you have an opportunity to make a big difference in the lives of your brethren in Christ. A word from a priest can, and very often does, give a person hope and strengthen their faith sufficiently to deal with the problems of life.
More than that, perhaps the clearest sign that a man has a vocation to the priesthood is his love of the Eurcharist. If you have that love, nothing imaginable can be compared to the wonder of celebrating the Divine Sacrifice of the Mass and holding the bread and wine which become transubstantiated (“He can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided, since he himself also is beset with weakness; and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins, as for the people, so also for himself.”) (Hebrews 5:2-3)
If you do possess a vocation to the priesthood, nothing can take its place. To be an ordained priest of the Lord Most High will be the highlight of your life. It is to be a bridge between Heaven and Earth. But be prepared – like a bridge, you have to have the humility to allow people to walk over you.
To be a priest, then, needs first and foremost faith, hope and charity. It needs love of God and all which pertains to Him. It calls for a willingness to sacrifice oneself for that love and a willingness to express that love in the adoration and worship of God, and in helping His people.
The Church has, perhaps, never needed good priests as badly as it has today. And there are many men who are called to the priesthood who do not heed the Lord’s call. Why is this? The church is under unprecedented pressure from other religious movements as well as anti- and non-religious movements. Each of these two sides are attacking the Church, and in their attack, they get to the men who have vocations before they can answer the call, preventing them from hearing it. It could well be that the most dangerous of these foes to vocations is materialism: the temptation to have a prosperous life and enjoy all the luxuries and delights, even innocent luxuries and delights which abound in the world.
This means that not only must each Catholic listen more closely to the inner voice to discern the true will of God for him, but the Church must also try harder to reach out to those vocations, to offer them examples of priestly life which are attractive not for their provision of creature comforts, but for holiness. Holiness and its attractiveness are, indeed, the secret weapons in the armoury of the church. And they are most apparent in the person of Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, for truly the priest acts in the person of Christ, and to imitate Him in holiness and selflessness.
When Bishop Tarabay became the Eparch of our Maronite Church in Australia, he made a significant innovation: he named himself as the Director of the Vocations Committee. Then, he instituted an annual vocations retreat, held in the first two weeks of Lent which he personally attends, and where he spends one on one time with every man who attends that retreat.
This has the significant result that each man who believes that he has or may have a vocation to the priesthood or even to the diaconate alone, can be assured of receiving the personal attention of the bishop.
The Maronite Church is very interested in vocations because God is, and it seeks to do His will. With seminarians both in Lebanon and Australia, the Church has planned, has struggled and is ready.
We can advise you on how to discern: do you have a vocation to be a priest or a deacon? Or do you merely wonder if you might? There is no pressure: we want you to find what it is that God wants for you.
If you have any question about your vocation in life, even if you are certain it is not to the priesthood, please contact any Maronite priest: every Maronite priest is a vocations officer. Otherwise, contact the Chancery on 8831 0000 and ask to speak to someone.
Choosing to embrace consecrated life, a woman commits to a profound extension of her baptismal vows, embracing the virtues of prayer, loving service and simple communal living. Through their vows, these women contribute to the well-being of both the Church and the community in various impactful ways, such as engaging in youth ministry, aiding the homeless and hungry, supporting battered women, fostering education, providing healthcare, nurturing family life and participating in parish pastoral ministry. Additionally, some Sisters lead a life of contemplation, wholly devoted to prayer and reflection.
Approaching discernment in this way will help you remain peaceful and detached. Try to be detached about your need for certainty. When you ask Him for light regarding your vocation, He hears you and He will respond. Perhaps not when you want Him to respond, but He will do so in His time. He will guide you in this.
Pray to God for the strength, wisdom, and generosity to get on with the task of preparing for and entering religious life. And then start. There is nothing more important than this.