A priest functions in persona Christi capitas—in the person of Christ, head of the Church. Thus a man who wants to be a priest must love Jesus Christ above all else. And like Jesus, he should have a deep love for the Church, the Bride of Christ. In general, a man who wants to be a priest will find himself drawn to Church teachings and “all things Catholic.”
Often other people will notice a “priest’s heart” in a young man and say to him, “Have you ever thought about being a priest? I think you’d make a good one.”
In fact, many men report that they grew tired of people making such comments—but that the encouragement eventually led them to seminary!
Pope Benedict spoke about what people expect of their priests. To paraphrase, he said that people do not expect priests to be experts in anything but the spiritual life. Thus, a good candidate for priesthood attends Mass, prays frequently, receives the sacrament of Confession, serves others, and strives to grow spiritually.
A priest brings Jesus to people and people to Jesus. For this reason, a man who wants to be a priest must have a deep concern for the people of God. He wants to help them grow in holiness; he wants to teach them the truths of the faith; he wants to minster to them during the trials of life. The vocation of priesthood is about leading others to heaven.
If you’ve thought about the possibility of priesthood, but don’t yet have all these signs and qualities, don’t despair! All people must strive for holiness. And future priests go through a long and intensive formation period, precisely to help them grow in virtue and be effective in their ministry.
If you’re interested in priesthood, talk to the Vocation Director about the signs above. He can help you further discern your vocation. And remember—true happiness and peace depend on following God’s perfect will for your life. If God wants you to be a priest, trust in his grace to lead you.
Read more: Practical ideas for discernment