Called to Follow Jesus
‘There is only one calling, and it is the one Jesus addresses to each of us: “Come and follow me.”’
Every time I sit at the desk in my home office, I glance at the small crucifix lying on it—a simple wooden cross with a small metal corpus. It was given to me by one of the late abbots of the Benedictine abbey of Mont César in Leuven, Belgium. He had received it from the late Bishop Boleslavs Sloskans, a Latvian national who had secretly been ordained a bishop in 1926 for a diocese in the former Soviet Union. When authorities found out, he was arrested and sent to a Soviet work camp. He managed to keep a small crucifix during his imprisonment. At the beginning of World War II, Bishop Sloskans found refuge at Mont César, where he spent the rest of his life. The crucifix rested on his desk at Leuven until it was passed down to the abbot.
I remember the day father abbot gave it to me with great clarity. It was the day I decided not to become a priest.
I had always wanted to be a priest, thinking that I had the calling. In prayer, I heard Jesus say, “Come and follow me,” which I understood to mean “become a priest.” When I turned seventeen, I applied to our local seminary; thus began a circuitous trajectory in and out of seminaries until I finally decided that I must not have the calling.