God's Forgiveness Lets Us Begin Again

Posted: 4/11/2014

Pat McEntee, Glenmary's associate vocation directorI am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me trustworthy in appointing me to the ministry.     —1 Timothy 1:12

The rains of spring have arrived to wash away the salt and grime of a long winter season, to aid in the germination of planted seeds, and to help all the plants to grow. In short, the Earth is going through its inevitable renewal process.

In a similar way, the season of Lent is intended to transform all of us so that we may be cleansed in preparation for the Easter season. Spring and the Easter Triduum remind us that our own faults and shortcomings have been washed away and we have been made clean, allowing us to grow stronger in our faith.

This cleansing is important to recognize when discerning a vocation. Many young men believe they can't possibly have vocations to the religious life because of mistakes they've made in their past or flaws they perceive in themselves. This belief couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, if more people considered their vocations from another viewpoint, it might make more sense. Rather than think that you don't have a vocation because you did X, Y and Z in your life, you should know that EVERYONE has a vocation. Some vocations are to religious life. Some are to the married life. Some are to the chaste single life. God has a vocation for each of us.

So, if you think that the mistakes you may have made in the past would exclude you from a religious vocation, what does that say about how you approach the other vocations of marriage and single life? Do you think that you are the only one who has made mistakes in the past? Are your flaws too great for a future religious community to forgive, but OK for others in your life—such as a future spouse—to forgive? Is there something too great for God to forgive?

As young people discern their vocations, a major hurdle is oftentimes a feeling of inadequacy. If people needed to be perfect in order to become priests or brothers, we wouldn't have anyone in those positions. All of us are flawed. But thanks to the grace and mercy shown by God in sending Jesus to die for our sins, we can overcome these shortcomings to continue the mission of Jesus and the Church.

A powerful example that those who are religious are in need of forgiveness and reconciliation is a video that recently made the rounds on social media. That video showed a reconciliation service in which Pope Francis welcomed the faithful to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation. As he was being led to his confessional, Pope Francis kept walking and instead went to receive the sacrament from another priest prior to hearing the confessions of those gathered. This act of humility should serve as a reminder that all of us need the grace of God to overcome our faults, and that when we do overcome some of them, we can begin to grow closer to God.

As you discern your vocation—and reflect on your possible vocation as a priest or brother with Glenmary Home Missioners—remember that where you are going is more important than where you are coming from. As spring helps cleanse and renew the earth, remember that we too can be cleansed. Our future is brighter, and we are able to grow and flourish, as a result of God's saving action in human history.

Contact us today to find out more about what it takes to be a Glenmary Home Missioner.