This phrase: from Psalm 40, and the Books of First Samuel and Isaiah, as well as the popular song; for a while was a source of great anxiety for me. We heard these words frequently in grade school at Saint Aloysius and at first I enjoyed picturing myself as Samuel, speaking those words for myself. Later on, between late grade school and high school, these words began to become more real for me although I was not yet ready to truly say those words as my own person. One homily from this time sticks out for me. The priest, in what I felt to be a rather bold manner, said that at least one of us young men in the congregation was being called to the priesthood, and he asked that we be open to that call. This really scared me and I remember wanting to look around and see if anyone else was going to take the burden and be the one Father was referring to. No one jumped up and accepted that call. Nevertheless I remember thinking ‘Here I am Lord’ at the time. While it scared me, a vocation to the priesthood and the words ‘Here I am Lord’ were linked from that time on.
Eventually, I worked up the courage and maturity to begin to really look at what that call means, and I have often reflected back on this event in my life. I have also come to further understand the link between a personalized invitation and communal acceptance. The priest, in a way, personally invited us all to an understanding of our vocations, and in return I eventually brought that understanding to the Church for testing and strengthening. While I was not ready when I first made this connect, I got there in time just like Samuel did. This connection between my love for this phrase now and the love that I had for it when I was very young comforts me with the knowledge that God has been with me, and will continue to be with me, for the entirety of this journey.
- Photo One: Monroe Lake, Hoosier National Forest