Votive Mass for Vocations

Scripture Readings: Gen 1:20 to 2:4a; Mk 7:1-13

I’m always encouraged by vocation stories, like this one.  It was 1953 and the boy was 16 years old.  He had met a young woman and fallen in love.  Passing the local church, he felt compelled to drop in for a visit and he asked a priest to hear his Confession.  It was a moment that changed his life forever. In that Confession something happened to him. He was surprised by a realization that God was calling him to be a priest.

At first, he hid his calling, telling his mother that he wanted to study medicine. Impressed, she transformed their attic into a place for him to study.  He spent long hours reading there, not about medicine, but about theology.   His mother, seeing no medical textbooks, confronted her son.  He replied, “I am studying medicine, but medicine for the soul.” 

When he settled into seminary life his conviction was challenged one day after meeting a dazzling young woman at a family wedding.  On returning to the seminary, he said, “I could not pray because the girl kept appearing in my mind.”  Finally, he re-committed himself to being a priest and he was ordained on December 13, 1969, four days before he turned 33.  The boy’s name?  Jorge Bergoglio, our present Pope Francis.  


Votive Mass for Vocations


Votive Mass for Vocations

[Scripture Readings: Hosea 11:1, 3-4, 8c-9; Mt 10:7-15 ]

A true understanding of reality is essential for wise discernment and decision-making, especially for one's vocation in life.

One day Satan asked three of his young devils how they planned to tempt human beings. The first said he would convince them that there is no God, no devil, no heaven or hell. So, eat, drink and be merry. Satan was pleased and sent the fellow on his way to do harm on earth. The second devil said he would tempt people by telling them there is a God and heaven, but that hell and devils do not exist. So do what you want, everyone will be happy forever. Satan liked that, and sent him on his way. Then he asked the third devil how he planned to make people fall. He replied that he would tell them there is a God, there are angels and devils, and that heaven and hell really exist, and that the bible is true. Satan was about to stop him right then and there, and throw the fellow back into the depths of hell, when the clever young liar revealed his most seductive temptation, “But then I will convince them there is no hurry.” Satan was delighted. “That is the best deception of all, go and do harm on earth. You will deceive many.”

A true understanding of reality is essential for life choices, for wise discernment and decision-making. The great Catholic novelist and short-story writer, Flannery O'Connor, said that her Catholic faith saved her a couple thousand years in learning how to write. Author Frank Sheed, a lay theologian, apologist and publisher, titled his excellent introduction to Catholicism, “Theology and Sanity,” because without a Catholic theological view of the world, one is really insane, out of touch with reality. Good discernment and decision-making are much easier for those who live by the Gospel.

Once a disciple asked Abba Ammonas, “What is the narrow and hard way?” (Mt 7:14). He replied, “The narrow and hard way is this: to control your thoughts, and to strip yourself of your own will for the sake of God.” The Desert Fathers guided their lives by faith, by God's revelation of reality. Because God does not deceive.

In her autobiography, St. Teresa of Avila teaches that, “The frequent repetition of a good inspiration is often a sign of God's will. One should not fail out of fear to put a good inspiration into practice when it repeatedly arises,” (Life, ch. 4). But another deception the devil uses to tempt us to delay or abandon an important decision is doubt. Often we do not have a clear and certain knowledge of God's will, even in very important matters such as a vocation. It is not necessary. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton writes that it is enough to take counsel, pray for guidance and then make a decision even when doubt persists. We can put the burden of making a mistake on God's shoulders. This is not presumption but a realistic admission of our human limitations.

St. Francis de Sales writes, “Even in matters of moment we are to use great humility and not to think we can find out God's will by force of examination and subtlety of discourse. Having implored the light of the Holy Spirit and applied our consideration to seeking his good pleasure, and taken the counsel of a director and perhaps two or three other spiritual persons we must resolve and determine to act in the name of God. Then devoutly and peacefully pursue it. Although difficulties occur which might cause us doubt, yet we must remain settled. For we do not know if it be God's will that we should be tried in consolation or desolation, in peace or war,” (Treatise on the Love of God, Book 8, Chapter 14).

Finally, there are more angels tempting us to do good, than devils tempting us to do evil. The three A's can help us discern these good temptations by angels: attraction, aptitude and acceptance. What good attraction, inspiration, do you experience? Do you have the aptitude, the skills, and the physical, mental and emotional ability to do it? Will those responsible give you acceptance? These are useful guides for good discernment and decision-making, especially for one's vocation in life.