By Josh Low
Archbishop Timothy Costelloe SDB last week led a Holy Hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament to pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life on 7 August 2019.
The event, hosted by Catholic Youth Ministry Perth, saw young people from across the Archdiocese join the Archbishop in Eucharistic Adoration as part of National Vocations Awareness Week across Australia.
Holy Hour was followed by an address to the youth by Archbishop Costelloe, who began by emphasising the importance of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament in adoration.
“I find attending a Holy Hour with people, kneeling in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, something very special, where everybody is there together, as we all were tonight, facing the same direction; and that direction is to Jesus.
“There is something very powerful about that kind of physical reality because it is a physical expression of who we are as members of the Catholic community,” he said.
“When you gather together before the Blessed Sacrament, with everybody’s eyes fixed on Him, that’s an expression of our faith like what Saint Paul tells us. There is only Christ. He is everything, and He is in everything.
“We don’t always live as if He is everything to us, we don’t always live as if there is only Him, but we know that deep down that’s true. That’s why the faith that we share together and the courage and the strength that we draw from each other is so important,” he continued.
“I think that’s really important to say – when we are talking about vocations, whether we are talking about vocations to the priesthood, religious life, to married life; whatever our vocation maybe, it is true for everybody that there is only Christ. He is everything and He is in everything.
Archbishop Costelloe explained that while vocations to the priesthood and religious life was the focus of the evening, he was not suggesting that it was the calling for every person present.
“If God called everyone to the priesthood or religious life, it would be the end of the world because we would have no one getting married and having kids.
“But it is the call that God is constantly offering to some people, and one of the things we need to pray about, is to maybe help those who He is calling to actually hear His voice and find the courage to say ‘yes’,” he added.
Reflecting on his own life and experience, Archbishop Costelloe shared a recent opportunity he had of visiting the parish in Melbourne where he was baptised.
“It was quite significant for me to spend some time in the Church there, and I still have the photos on my phone to look at every so often to remind me where my vocation started and then to ask myself: ‘how did I get from there to, in my case, standing here in Highgate on 7 August 2019 as Archbishop of Perth?’
“How did that happen? But you might also ask yourself: ‘what is it that has happened to me in my journey so far that has led me to be here tonight, in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament?’.”
What it means, he explained, is that God has been at work in our lives, even at times we may not even realise.
“God is still at work in your life and will continue to be, and if you just had a basic desire to stay open to His guidance and the power of His Spirit leading you forward, you will find your vocation,” he emphasised.
“The thing I want to stress is that if you do your best to stay open to God, He will lead you where He wants you to go.”
Referencing St Mary McKillop’s example of her extraordinary love for the will of God, as well as Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, who said: “Not my will, but yours be done”, Archbishop Costelloe said following God’s will and not our own is the real challenge of every person’s journey.
“It’s funny how God’s plans work out. I’m a Salesian and belong to a religious order. When I was younger and trying to work out what God wanted me to do, I very deliberately decided I didn’t want to be a diocesan priest,” he said.
“Whatever God is asking of me, I hoped he didn’t ask me to be a diocesan priest. Now look at me, I ended up a diocesan Bishop.”
Expressing his understanding at how difficult discernment can be; the Archbishop said he has never met anybody who just found it easy.
“It is always going to be a challenge, a struggle. Maybe God wants to teach us to rely more on Him rather than on ourselves, to just to let go and let the Lord lead us.
“As we are trying to decide what God wants of us, if we’re doing our best to be in touch with God at work within us, eventually we will just know. Maybe not absolutely certainly, because sometimes you have to take a risk, to take a leap of faith, but there will be something that maybe says to you that if you don’t try you will never know.
He added that focusing on what God’s wants us to do today instead of looking too far into the future is important.
“We practice doing what God wants us to do today just by looking around us to see who is in need or who I might encounter, what the challenges I’m facing are and how am I going to respond to those.
“If we practice doing God’s will each day, we will get so good at it that eventually, what God is asking for us in the future will also become clear to us.
“The most important thing to keep in mind is that there is no better or worse, more perfect or less perfect vocation. There is only the vocation that is right for you, because that’s the one God is calling you to,” he concluded.