The desire to be a priest, that is. Or perhaps, I think what I'm really asking is where does one's desire to follow what they believe to be their vocational calling come from? Is it a product of "our will" - or is it a product of "God's will"? Is it born of our actions, our reactions, our experiences - that is, is it a product of "us"... or, on the other hand, is it a product of God's work and will and love in our life, which would make it grace?
Try as I might, I can't reconstruct how this question is what I was left with after our beginning of a Day of Prayer for the seminary community just moments ago. Father Sub-Prior Denis from the archabbey is directing our day of prayer - and his point of departure was, it seems to me now as I reflect on it, a very different concept: What is seminarian piety.
But there was a moment during Fr. Denis' reflection when he said, "And here is the ultimate model of piety: When in the garden, Jesus said, 'If You are willing, let this cup pass from me. But not my will, Thy will be done.'" The model of piety - complete surrender. A complete turning over of one's will. A complete turning over of His will. Beyond what He wanted or didn't want.
So often, in my mind, the discernment journey returns to the need to discover whether this burning desire to serve God as priest comes from within or from God. For, there is no longer - at least there hasn't been for a long time, and there is not today - any shadow or doubt about whether or not I desire to serve God as priest. But in what is that desire rooted?
Did Christ want to be Christ? Did Jesus - fully God and fully man - want to be the first, highest, model priest? Or was it God's will manifest in Him? Must these be either or? No - I think not. Surely it is possible for my desire to be in concert with God's - but it certainly possible for my desire to be contrary to God's desire.
So - the question for me is - is my desire to be His priest... is it of me, or of Him. Is a desire to be priest ever completely of one's own design only? Or is it that, at least at its kernel, its core, its most basic, is that desire always born of God Himself.
Thank God we can pray...for more than in classwork, or in formation conferences, or conversations with others... more than anything else, prayer can lead me where this question is leading me.