Not everyone accepts — or even understands — their vocation as a young adult. God doesn’t necessarily call when it’s most convenient for us, so it’s important to be mindful even later in life. Perhaps you attended college, graduated, and went on to have a successful career in the field you studied. And yet, in the back of your mind, you hear a whisper that tells you that this is not what you truly want to do.
You may have heard this call for years and denied it in pursuit of your chosen career. For some, the call comes abruptly after years of perfect happiness with the way life has turned out. Your career may no longer be satisfying, or the direction your life is going may lead you away from what you know is right. In either case, it may be God speaking to you, telling you that it’s time to listen to His call.
Just as it is never too early to ask what God wants for you, it is never too late to seriously consider that you may have misinterpreted His plan. It may even be in His design that you live the life you’ve lived and have the experiences you’ve had before entering religious life. We can never know for sure what God wants us to do today, we can only listen and pray that He will guide us along the path.
If you are considering the priesthood after spending time in another field, or possibly even many other fields, there are several things you can do to help light the way. Attend Mass often, perhaps even daily. By spending as much time as possible deepening your relationship with God and discussing your situation with your spiritual leaders, you can deepen your understanding of the Lord’s plan for you. Regularly receive the sacraments and seek out opportunities for charitable work and ministry. At all times, look to do God’s will.
Look to your priest and other pastoral mentors for inspiration and guidance. Though they may not personally have come to the priesthood the same way you are, they may know another priest who did. Even a priest with a completely different experience can offer advice and direction on how to be certain that you are called to this life.
It is important not to think of a religious vocation as a fallback position, a “safety net” in case nothing else works out. It is the most serious commitment a person can make, and the journey can only be made by one who truly seeks to serve God and the Church. As an adult making this transition, you will face unique challenges that younger candidates do not face. Only the certainty that comes from doing God’s will can carry you through this difficult journey. If God is truly calling you, you will know.