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Fr. Burke Masters is the Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Joliet-in-Illinois.

The most important voice you will ever hear is the voice of God.  He has a wonderful plan for your life, but often we are too busy and live in such a noisy world that we do not hear His voice.  Sometimes we hear talk about a “vocation crisis”.  I’m convinced that God has not stopped calling.  The problem is that we have stopped listening.  And the good news is that priestly vocations have been on the rise in our diocese in recent years.

So how can one begin to hear God’s voice?  I believe it begins in the silence.  Each one of us needs to find time in our busy lives to sit in silence, preferably before the Blessed Sacrament, and listen for God’s voice.  I used to be afraid of the silence.  Who do we encounter in the silence?  God and ourselves.  I remember being afraid of what God was going to tell me and I really didn’t like the person that I was at the time.  So I avoided silence at all costs.  I would make sure that I had the radio or television going at all times so that I could avoid God and myself.

However, my girlfriend at the time invited me to go to Eucharistic adoration one day.  I didn’t know how to pray but I wanted to be with her so I went.  I fumbled through that hour of prayer by reading a book, but we decided to go back every Tuesday for an hour of adoration.  I went from being afraid of the silence to craving the silence.  And after a few months of allowing myself to be drawn into the silence I began to hear a voice.  The only way I can describe it is that every time I went to pray the idea of priesthood rose to the surface.  It was as if God was inviting me to consider the priesthood.

I didn’t want to be a priest because I didn’t think it would make me happy.  I didn’t trust God’s plan for me.  I wanted to be in control.  But the Lord continued to invite me to consider the priesthood and so I asked Him for a sign.  I wanted to be sure.  People starting coming up to me saying, “I think you’d make a great priest.”  Or “Have you ever considered being a priest?”  They were confirming externally what I was feeling internally in prayer.  It was confirmation of the call.

I reluctantly went to seminary still thinking that I wouldn’t like it and I would get God off my back.  However, when I entered Mundelein Seminary in August 1993 I felt instant peace and joy – the fruits of the Holy Spirit.  I knew at once that I had found God’s call in my life. 

A funny part of the story is that one of my best friends starting dating my former girlfriend after I was in the seminary about three months.  They eventually were married and guess who celebrated their wedding Mass?  Yes, yours truly.  It was the second wedding I celebrated as a priest.  And people always ask me, “Weren’t you jealous?”  Actually what I was experiencing in my heart was, “I have found my vocation as a priest and I’m truly fulfilled.  They have found their vocation as a married couple and they are truly fulfilled.”

We find joy in life not by doing what we want to do but by following the will of God.  And because God loves us so much, He will never call us to something that will make us miserable.  God will call you to a life of fullness and joy.

So here is my encouragement for you to discern your vocation:

1)     Grow in holiness.

  1. a.     This requires a life of daily prayer.  Seek the silence and listen to God.  Speak to Him like you would your best friend.
  2. b.    Read the Scriptures daily.  I recommend reading the daily Mass Scripture readings.
  3. c.     Stay close to Jesus in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Confession.  God to daily Mass as often as you can.  Go to confession at least once a month.
  4. d.    Stay close to Mary who leads us closer to her Son.  Pray the rosary daily asking for her intercession for you to follow your vocational call.

2)     Listen to others.  Jesus often speaks to us through others, especially those who know us well.  But this can also come through strangers.

3)     Pray for courage to say YES to Jesus wherever He leads you.  Trust Him.  Jesus will never fail you.

 Contact us if you need help discerning:

Diocese of Joliet Vocation Office

Blanchette Catholic Center

16555 Weber Road

Crest Hill, IL 60403

815-221-6171

vocations@dioceseofjoliet.org