After 50 years in the priesthood, John Paull II captured his experience of his vocation in two words which became the title of his book, Gift and Mystery. Like John Paul, these two words resonate with me and my vocation.
Going back to the seminary has been at the back of my mind for the past three years. I did not know what to make of it since I had been enjoying my job for the past couple of years. Working in the bank had been fulfilling. I learned a lot from it, but something was lacking that was filled every time I attended Mass during lunch breaks. It became a regular part of my daily schedule. At times, I would miss Mass and my day felt incomplete. At Mass, I recognized the beauty of Christ and His priesthood. Such beauty was “the pull” that attracted me to the priesthood. Then I started to see myself as a priest representing Christ celebrating Mass. That “seeing” in my prayer never stopped and continues to be my inspiration in the seminary. One day, if His grace allows it, I will be a priest. Undeserving as I may be, it is God who put this desire inside me. Indeed, vocation is a gift and a mystery for me — I have to live in radical openness to the ministry of Christ.
Answering God’s call is the secret to my human happiness. This calling realizes the reason, the purpose, and the mission of why I was born. It has helped me grow in my relationship with God, disposing of myself every day of His call. For me, serving God’s people in the Church gives me the unexplainable deep joy that I could not experience even with my blossoming career in the bank. It may sound very cliché, but this is how I feel. When I resigned from a job I was enjoying and entered the seminary, I felt a sense of fulfillment and peace. I prayed so hard for openness during the discernment stage while God continued to surprise me with many exciting things in my life. As I heed His call, I am growing like a plant whose seed of vocation is nurtured by so many people; I just have to cooperate with it. I call this process the “conspiracy of God and his people,” as everything falls into place and I cooperate with God’s call.
From my experience, God’s plan for me or anybody is always for the best. As our Creator, He must have the best thing in mind while creating us. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:11-13). That is the importance of answering God’s call. You only need to listen to God’s voice and follow His instructions.
Now, I am back in the seminary and in my first year of theology. Being in Mundelein in the Midwest is different than being in sunny California and perhaps better than my experience in the seminary when I was still a teenager. I have been to places with snow but never experienced snow for that long. As the snow season is approaching I am excited, not about the shoveling part, but about how this new snow experience may again expand my response to God’s call. I believe in every experience as God never stops surprising those who love Him.
Yes, vocation is a gift and mystery. While a gift is to be cared for and a mystery is to be lived, one cannot miss the joy in the life of the recipient. Pope Francis meant this when he wrote about the Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium). God created me to be joyful, and I am ready to be formed, daily answering His call to serve His people.
— Reflection by Seminarian Quizzer X. Besinio