Recently I have been spending time delving into several books that deal with stories of individuals articulating their journeys into monastic life—Touched by God – Edited by Laurentia Johns OSB and The Wisdom of the Benedictine Elders by Mark McGinnis.
I ran across a few lines in one story that really spoke to me. Following is an exact quote: “Some people say that all vocations are born, not made. I believe this myself, in the sense that I believe in the slow-release miracle of God’s love. From the womb he calls each one of us – perhaps even from all eternity”.
This was written by a monk by the name of Andrew Nugent from Glenstal Abbey in Ireland.
I would like to meet this monk some day. Whether I ever have a chance to do that is another matter. His story is a much more interesting one than mine, but his belief is similar to mine. His is entitled An Away Match.
I do think that there are some people who know very early in life that they are being called to consecrated life or the priesthood. I also believe that many people these days do not always listen to the call of consecrated life, even though they are being called. They simply ignore it and run in the opposite direction, making many excuses.
My article entitled Promised at Birth, chronicles the story of how the seeds were planted in me to become a priest. My mother had much to do with planting those seeds. At a very young age, I knew I wanted to be a priest. I just knew it.
This past January I celebrated my 60th birthday. It so happened that my family decided to shower me with a few gifts when we had our Christmas family gathering in January. Of course, there were a few funny gifts, like a package of Depends (disposable underwear for older people) that have been passed down the way when each of us siblings reaches 60 years old, but there was one gift that was presented to me that brought back lots of memories.
Someone found the old vestment (chasuable – a fiddle back one) that I used as a young boy when I was playing priest. I had not seen it in a very long time. In fact, I did not think that it was still around. Indeed, it brought back lots of memories for me.
So I knew that I really did not want to have another item that I might have to deal with in trying to pare down on possessions these days. We monastics try to do that all our lives, but we really try to pare down as we get older. So I knew exactly to whom I should pass this vestment on to—my great nephew, Jacob Nore.
Jacob is only in elementary school – St. Michael’s in Albion, Nebraska. It is the same school that I attended when I was his age. But for several years now he has been telling his parents that he wants to be a priest. I thought perhaps he might like to have an item that belonged to his great uncle, who did pursue consecrated life and the priesthood.
Indeed, Jacob has used the vestments numerous times already. He is not being hesitant in telling his parents what he would like to do in life.
Perhaps he is young and perhaps things will all change for him, but perhaps also a seed has been planted and just perhaps he is listening to something that was destined for him from all eternity.