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Discerning God’s Call

Karen Mahoney discusses the many life options her son, Erin, can choose: husband, father, priest?

Karen Mahoney

Karen Mahoney
Freelance Writer


Lately our mailbox has been overflowing with thick envelopes, glossy postcards, and official looking letters, all addressed to our 16-year-old son, Erin. Similarly, emails have flooded our inboxes, and the phone rings often — for him. What has he done to warrant such attention? Somehow, word got out that he is an intelligent high school junior and the various colleges around the country have begun to court him.

Looking at the mountains of college literature is daunting, even for me. But for a 16-year-old who isn’t sure what God is calling him to do, it is mind-boggling. Often, we chat about his future and it goes something like this:

“Any idea what you want to do for college?”

“I have no idea.”

“Well, do you feel drawn to any specific field?”

“Not really.”

And that pretty much sums up the conversation.

Early on, Erin began showing an interest in the priesthood, and my husband and I were overjoyed. However, somewhere along the tedious days of high school and raging hormones, he has lessened his interest in serving the Church as a priest, and developed more of an interest in girls. Whether this is fleeting or not, we are not sure.

Rather than push him towards our first choice for vocation, we have opted to pray for Erin’s discernment in following God’s call for his future. Whether it is the priesthood, or as a fine Catholic man working in the secular world, we want it to be Our Lord who leads him on this path.

However, he is 16 and he is a male. In addition to our own prayers, we encourage him to pray to hear God’s call. However, his hearing God’s call brings up another issue. How do I convince my son to listen for God’s voice when he doesn’t hear me when I ask him to put his clothes away, clean his room, do the dishes or remember what I asked him to pick up at the grocery store? How can he be quiet and hear God’s ethereal whisper when he’s playing video games, watching TV or listening to music with ear buds sticking out of the side of his head?

Certainly, he has the attributes to make a fine priest; he has a strong love of God, is compassionate towards others, loves to serve the Church in the Mass as an altar server or cantor, and sacrifices willingly for anyone. Of course, I am just his mother and most likely biased, but he really would make a wonderful priest.

But then, he would make a great husband and father too; and heaven knows, we need good role models for the Domestic Church. We have far too many Catholic families with no fatherly role models to lead children to live Christ-like lives. I credit his attending St. Lawrence Seminary High School to help prepare him in many ways for his role as a Father of a parish or a family, or in any facet of employment that God leads him.

Perhaps that last thought is the key to his future endeavors — allowing God to lead him. After all, God eventually got through to me, and I was a tough nut to crack. Surely Our Lord can crack the pliable exterior of my son — even with ear buds on. But, as back up, I’m praying for the intercession of St. John Vianney.

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(Karen Mahoney is a freelance writer for Wisconsin publications. Read more about her Catholic family life by following her blog, Write 2 The Point)

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