What a perfect Director of Vocations, Father must surely be! He communicates so effectively. He held the room rapt with a calm, confident delivery of his message. Something about his voice and timing just bathed the room in a peacefulness....a tenderness is really the perfect word for it.
Here are some notes from Father's talk that struck me.
The fact that we all have a vocation was explained. Our vocations are to the married, single or religious life. We need to pray to be obedient to what God's plans are for us. Father spoke of the long discernment process in the religious life, the years. He juxtaposed it to how long couples usually date prior to marriage, typically 1 year. But that it too should be a courtship,making sure this is the person God wants for you.
In fact, and this was something I have NEVER heard before and yet found so illuminating, feeling that you have a calling to marriage and parenthood does not preclude one from religious life. In fact, Father said if a candidate came to him and said he couldn't fathom married life or felt adverse to it that he'd wave them goodbye. Indeed, he felt that one better feel that way. You will be a spouse to the Church with many "children" to shepherd. You will be called to love and love greatly!
Father also related that in the seminary you will always get an answer. You will either stay because you have a calling to religious life or you will leave because you get the answer that you don't.
The way he ended the speech had my husband and I looking at each other with tears welling in our eyes. He asked the teens to begin to say a prayer every night along these lines....
Lord, if I am called to the married life I pray for my future spouse. I pray for his/her protection, for his/her purity and faith. (Further he asked, "Can you imagine 10 years from now saying to your spouse - I prayed for you every night?!" and then he admonished that you can't just use that line, you gotta do it or you'll need to go to confession.) And Lord, if it is my calling to take religious vows, please put into my path people that won't tell me to do it, but the right people to encourage me to do so.
I hope that the many souls that heard that prayer and dear priest tonight are in their beds praying that very prayer. I reminded mine too.