By Fr. Joshua Mayer
I have vivid memories of my first day in seminary. I remember that I was almost late for the first thing on our schedule because we had to stop and buy clothes on the way. I remember how our car made it all the way to Denver and then broke down as soon as we arrived at the seminary parking lot. I remember the wonder I had about everything…seminary seems so mysterious!
It was late summer 2009. I was 27 years old and embarking on a completely new journey. And I was really curious about the other men who were entering seminary with me…What were they like? Where were they from? Were they cool? Were they weird? What was their story? There were 21 of us newbies.
After our first dinner together, we were instructed to grab our chairs, sit in a circle and share a 5-minute-or-less version of our vocation story with each other. The other guys came from many different dioceses, states and countries, and had hugely varied backstories. One was a local kid, fresh out of high school. Another was a grizzled Navy vet who had experienced a deep conversion and heard the call to be a priest. Some felt the tug toward the priesthood during college. There were two great guys from Vietnam who got stuck in the wrong seminary for six months before they learned enough English to correct the error! I was from California and had made my way to the New Mexican high desert when Jesus began to give me clarity in my vocational search.
21 different men with 21 different stories and 21 unique calls. Our origins were as diverse as the paths we had traveled. But as we went around the circle and shared the abbreviated version of how God got us to seminary, one thing kept coming up, without fail, in everyone’s tale: we had all spent time, regularly, with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration. For every single one of us, no matter how different we were, one thing was the same: a regular Holy Hour with the Lord had played an important role in both hearing the Lord’s voice and having the courage to follow His call.
It made sense. If you want to have a relationship with someone, you need to spend time with them. If you want to understand what they are saying to you, you need to listen. And if you’d like to strengthen and deepen that relationship, even toward intimacy, you need to spend time alone together, heart to heart, giving and receiving.
This is what we do when we spend time in Adoration with the Eucharistic Lord. We come before Jesus, who is fully present with us, body, blood, soul and divinity, and we pour our hearts out to him, invite Him to process our days and weeks with us, ask Him for whatever we need… and, hopefully, we also let Him quiet our hearts so that we can really listen to Him, and begin to learn His language, which is the deep language of the heart.
When you get to know Jesus, He reveals you to yourself. When you begin to spend privileged time with Him, He will invite you to follow Him more closely. And, when the time is right, He will make His call to you clear. This isn’t an experience limited to young men being called to the priesthood; Jesus desires to spend time with each and every one of us. He has a particular call for you, to follow Him and share His mission in a unique way.
“Vocation” simply means “call.” And so, there is the big, overarching call in our life – our “Capital V” vocation, to religious life, to marriage, to be a hermit on a mountaintop, to whatever particular mission Jesus has made us for… but Jesus also calls us every single day, and moves us with His Holy Spirit that He gave to each of us at our baptism. Throughout each day, as we go to school, or go to work, or take care of our kids, in our encounters with others and all of the ups and downs, Jesus is calling and the Spirit is moving. But without reflecting on our day and spending time in prayer, we are going to miss most of these movements and be hard of hearing to the Lord’s call.
This is why the time we spend with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration is so powerful and valuable. Do you want to know how Jesus is with you, loving you, and calling you, in the minutiae of each day and in the big life decisions that you face? Well, spend time with Him. Ask Him. Tell Him what’s on your heart. And LISTEN. Make a regular appointment with the Lord, who loves to spend His time (and His whole self) for you!
In that circle of chairs, nearly thirteen years ago, twenty-one fresh-faced seminarians, each with radically different stories, realized that one thing united us all: regular time spent with Jesus, fully present in the Eucharist. It was there, listening for His voice and sharing our heart with Him, that we received enough clarity and strength to follow Jesus toward our vocation. And there, too, Jesus has a word for you, a call for you, His infinite love to reveal to you.
Fr. Joshua Mayer is the Vocations Director for the Diocese of Gallup.