I grinned, “Yes, I remember.”
“Well, the other day I was in my room praying about it, and as soon as I said, ‘Amen’, I had this really joyful feeling come over me. The kind of feeling you get when it is Christmas morning or your birthday.”
With restrained jubilation I answered, “Oh, really.”
“Yeah, and I didn’t really hear a voice but the word priest, priest, priest,” His voice carried a note of wonder and his wide eight-year old eyes looked to me for understanding.
I took a breath and silently prayed, “Lord, what do I say?”
What does it mean to encourage vocations to the priesthood? I’ve heard that phrase countless times, but I’ve never seen the action plan. As parents we have always offered it up as a possibility when having the “what do you want to be when you grow up” talk, but that was our best and yes, only idea.
He was still looking at me, so I knew I couldn’t hold that breath forever. Whether it was a nudging from the Holy Spirit or the result of my own thought, the words, “get out of the way,” popped into my mind. I wanted to gush with enthusiasm, but I didn’t want my reaction to overly influence him. This was not my decision to discern. It was and is Austin’s. Nor was it my prayer to confirm. It was and is God’s. So, I harnessed my unbridled joy and said, “Well, Austin, that could have been the Holy Spirit, and it might have been God reaching out to you. But the important thing is to keep praying because no matter what you choose it is only good and right if it’s God’s will. You can’t be influenced by making the decision because you think it would make me happy or dad or anyone else including grandma who let’s face it… would be ecstatic.”
“Yeah, I know that.” He smiled.
That’s how the conversation ended. Since that moment, he has continued to pray and upon saying, ‘Amen’, he has felt that same joyful feeling. His dad and I (and his ecstatic grandma) pray for Austin and for God to lead us in support of His will whatever it may be. We have stepped up our efforts to expose Austin to more priests. Last weekend, the Bishop was at our church, and he advised Austin to read his Bible and pray.
Honestly, I don’t know if Austin will ever be Father Austin or number 64 for the Denver Broncos (okay, maybe I know that one), but I do know that as his mother I must encourage his openness to the priesthood without discouraging his openness to married life, football, or whatever plans God has for him. It is in that sense that I must get out of the way and allow room for God to lead my son. I will follow behind . . . but probably not too far behind.
Serra Prayer for Vocations
O God, Who wills not the death of a sinner, but rather that he be converted and live, grant we beseech You through the intercession of the Blessed Mary ever Virgin, Saint Joseph, her spouse, Blessed Junipero Serra and all the saints, an increase in laborers for Your Church, fellow laborers with Christ to spend and consume themselves for souls, through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen.