Discerning the Priesthood with the Rosary

“The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You
are a priest forever after the order of Melchiz′edek.’”
—Psalm 110:4

I was a new Catholic and very happy. I was single, had recently
graduated college, and had started my first job in my new

Shortly after becoming Catholic, I encountered St. Francis
of Assisi. Even as an atheist, I had heard of St. Francis, but now,
as a Catholic, I began to learn more deeply about how he actually
lived his life.

I learned that he practiced extreme poverty and made vows
of chastity and obedience. At the time, I could not imagine a
more radical way of following Jesus than these.

What if God was calling me to such a radical way of life as
well, to religious life or to the priesthood?

I wanted to follow wherever God led me, but I was still not
completely healed of all my anxieties. Being a priest meant you
had to be in the spotlight, with all eyes on you, and I wondered
whether I could ever do that.

I also had a fear that God “had it in for me.” Would He call
me to do the very thing I most dreaded, just as He had called me
to become Catholic when it was something that I had despised?

He seemed to have plans that were quite different from how I
imagined my life to go, and I wondered with trepidation if He
would call me to be a priest, in spite of my anxieties about it.

I wasn’t sure of the answer yet, so I just kept praying. I had
been asking God what He wanted me to do with my life. Did He
want me to become a priest? But month after month, I got no
response and started to feel frustrated. “Why won’t you speak
to me Lord? This is something so important and vital to my
whole life!” I shouted from my heart.

Yet God remained silent.

The Rosary Reveals My Next Step

A few months prior, right at the end of college when I was
entering the Catholic Church, a friend gave me a book by St.
Louis De Montfort called The Secret of the Rosary. I didn’t know
much about the Rosary, and as a former Protestant, I had been
on guard against Mary in particular, since I’d been taught that
Catholics worship Mary.

In becoming Catholic, I realized that Catholics did not
worship Mary and that it was okay to seek her intercession, but
old prejudices die hard, and I still felt uncomfortable about it.

Further, I was still living with my three Protestant roommates.

They knew I was becoming Catholic, and they deeply opposed
my decision. So I was afraid of praying the Rosary where they
could hear me or find out.

In spite of my reservations, God kept bringing to my attention
things that demanded I learn about the Rosary. So I
did some research. I learned that our Lady personally gave St. Dominic the Rosary, instructing him on how it should be

St. Dominic would later say, “One day, through the
Rosary...Our Lady will save the world.”

That was enough for me to take the next step, in spite of
my old Protestant biases. I decided to open up The Secret of the
Rosary, and I read it. In doing so, I realized that I needed to
ask our Lady to pray for me in the Rosary, to obtain the graces
that I needed to discern whether God was calling me to the

So one day, when all my Protestant roommates were out
of the house, I pulled out the one rosary I owned, a gift from
my friend Gerardo, the same one who had helped me discover
the Catholic Church. I went into the bedroom I shared with
my three friends, went under the covers of my bed, and quietly
started to pray.

It felt odd, saying these prayers to Mary. And I had to keep
referring back to the pamphlet I had picked up that explained
how to pray the Rosary. Fearing that my roommates would
barge into the apartment and discover me, my heart was beating
fast. If they found me praying to Mary, I didn’t know what
they might do.

Twenty minutes later, I completed the final prayer and
made the Sign of the Cross. Shortly after, my roommates returned
to the apartment. Whew!

I kept reading more on the Rosary. Every bit I learned confirmed
how powerful it was.

St. Louis de Montfort described it this way: “If you say the
Rosary faithfully until death, I assure you that in spite of the
gravity of your sins, you shall receive a never-fading crown of
glory. Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you
have one foot in Hell, even if you have sold your soul to the
devil as sorcerers do who practice black magic, and even if you
are a heretic as obstinate as a devil, sooner or later you will
be converted and will amend your life and save your soul, if,
and mark well what I say--if you say the Holy Rosary devoutly
every day until death for the purpose of knowing the truth and
obtaining contrition and pardon of your sins.”

Incredible. If devout praying of the Rosary can save souls
on the brink of damnation, surely God would direct me in my
discernment of the priesthood?

Praying the Rosary felt awkward for the first month, but I
stuck with it. I kept praying the Rosary on a regular basis, and
through it, I received the grace to know what the next step if I
should take was.

A Retreat Surprise

Through the Rosary, I realized that I could not just think
about the priesthood and religious life in the abstract. I needed
to actually meet priests and religious brothers and sisters, talk
to them, and see whether I could imagine myself as a priest.
I started by going on our diocesan discernment retreat.

Many young men and women who were thinking about the
priesthood and religious life attended, as well as representatives
from several religious Orders, including nuns and priests,
as well as priests of our diocese.

At this retreat many religious men and women gave talks,
and they held discussion sessions where you could talk directly
to the priests and nuns and learn about the religious life.

One priest was from the Paulist religious community, the
order in charge of the local university Catholic student center.
I asked if he would like to go for a walk with me on the retreat
grounds, and he happily agreed.

While on the walk, I asked him about his community, what
their unique charism was (the special way that they followed
Jesus), as well as what it was like for him to be a priest at the

To my shock, in his responses he started using profanity.
He was dropping curse words left and right as he described his
experiences as a priest. I think that this was his effort to try to
“be cool” and relate with me, but he couldn’t have been further
off the mark.

The next day of the retreat we got to sit down together in a
group of young people and talk to a nun. This nun, the first I
had ever met, surprised me, because I noticed that she was not
wearing a habit, the customary garb that I had always associated
with nuns, at least from old pictures and movies.

During our discussion, I said something about how some
men are called to the priesthood, and she interrupted me and
gave me a funny look. She then took on a patronizing tone in
her voice, as if she were instructing a small, ignorant child,
and she explained to me how “women were going to soon be
priests,” and that the Catholic Church was finally “getting with
the times.”

I was speechless, but the last thing I wanted to do was
to argue with a nun, who I assumed was much holier than I
and certainly knew the Catholic Faith better, having lived it
her whole life. I asked a clarifying question because I thought
perhaps I had misunderstood what she said, but she reiterated
emphatically that women could also be priests and that this
would happen one day soon.

I didn’t say anything more. (Perhaps I should have spoken
up, but I was not confident enough in my Catholic faith yet to
challenge a nun.) Instead, all the rest of that day at the retreat,

I questioned my beliefs and assumptions on what it meant to
be a priest.

In spite of these discouraging interactions, the next day
I was able to spend a lot of time in prayer, talking with God
about what He desired for me. I mentally separated what these
priests and religious said from what I knew the Church taught
and did not let it disturb me from considering a vocation to the

That retreat ended, and I began to think about specific religious
communities that I might be called too. Since St. Therese
of Lisieux was my Confirmation saint, I began exploring the Carmelite religious Order.

The Carmelite house nearest me was having a “Come and
See” retreat weekend, so I signed up and went, eager to meet
real Carmelites and see how they followed our Lord.

With the Carmelites

I was with a small group of other young men, and for the
weekend we were led by two Carmelite seminarians. We listened
to various talks by the Carmelite priests, but I was perplexed by
the irreverent tone they used, including by the very priest who
was the vocation director as he described their daily life.

Later that evening, we went out into the city with the two
seminarians, who were going to show us around the area. As
we were walking through the city, one of them pointed out a
strip club and asked whether we wanted to go inside.

I said, “Are you joking?” He laughed and said “well I guess
not, huh?” and we kept on walking.

Imagine a seminarian inviting a group of young men on
a retreat to go into a strip club? Unthinkable, yet it had just
happened. I tried to dismiss the whole situation, giving him the
benefit of the doubt that he just meant to make a joke, albeit in
very bad taste.

The next day, back at the monastery, the priests offered
Mass for all of us. But during Communion when I went up to
receive, the priest broke off a chunk of what looked like leavened,
regular bread, and handed it to me saying, “the Body of

I did my best to not let any crumbs fall, since this was the
consecrated Host, but I went back to the pew confused. They
had used leavened bread instead of unleavened bread for the
Eucharist. I had heard that the Eastern Orthodox Christians
did this as well, so while I believed it be a valid Mass still (and it
was), my understanding was that Roman Rite Catholic Masses
were to use unleavened bread. Why did these Carmelites decide
to do differently? I never got an answer to that question
On the retreat, I had the most in common with one young
man in particular. His name was John. He and I talked quite
a bit because we were both similarly committed to discovering
God’s call for our life, which we both thought could be the

As the weekend was drawing to a close, John took me
aside and said in a very sober voice, “Devin, these are not the

I understood what he was saying right away. And though
I was a bit taken aback by how bluntly he expressed it, I had
to agree. This was not how the Apostles lived nor was it how I
envisioned living as a priest.

A Surprise at My Home Parish

I went back home and called up my parish priest. He knew
that I was thinking about the priesthood, so he invited me
to spend an afternoon with him. He really loved music and
worked constantly on the pipe organ in the church, so he took
me out to the workshop beside the rectory and showed me all
the different pipes he was working on.

Our conversation turned to the priesthood, and he said to
me offhandedly, “Devin, you don’t need to worry about celibacy,
because I know that the Church is soon going to allow
married priests.”

I felt bewildered. I had learned that symbolically the priest
is married to the Church, and this is why priests as a rule are
not married. Only in exceptional circumstances, like when an
already married Protestant pastor became Catholic, could he
potentially be given a dispensation and be ordained a priest.

I had worked hard to not be disturbed by the odd and
contradictory opinions from the priests and religious that I
had met. But I wondered: were there no Catholic clergy who
adhered to what the Church taught? Why were so many spouting
ideas that contradicted 2,000 years of Church Tradition?

In meeting these confused priests and religious, the thought
ran through my head, “What if God needs me to become a
priest, so that I can be a faithful one who will offset these others?”

The fear that God “had it in for me” and would call me
to be the one lone priest among a sea of unfaithful ones crept
into my heart.

One thing I knew was true: I should keep praying the Rosary.
I did so, even as I continued reading about different religious
communities and tried picturing myself as a priest, ignoring
the heterodox stuff that I had heard from actual priests.

Providentially, I heard from an old college friend, the same
one who had given me St. Louis de Montfort’s The Secret of
the Rosary and started me on this devotion. He had entered
religious life with a new Franciscan Order that was closely following
the original life of St. Francis.

As I learned about this Order, who devoutly prayed the
Rosary everyday during Eucharistic Adoration, I saw that even
amidst the confusion and error that I had encountered, God
had raised up new, healthy shoots from the solid roots of the
Church’s tree.

I learned all that I could about this Franciscan Order and
asked our Lady in the Rosary if I should join it, too. It was then,
in the depths of prayer, that I received the grace of understanding
that although this Order was beautiful and holy, my particular
call was to be married.

I knew that the priesthood was not my calling, but through
my study I had gained a deep appreciation for the nobility of
the priesthood and the great honor it was to stand in the person
of Christ and offer the sacraments to the faithful.
I also realized that God does not “have it in for me” but that
He loves me truly and wants me to be happy and fulfilled. He
would not call me to be something that would be abhorrent and
repulsive to my very self.

I did not have to live in servile fear of God; rather, He was
my loving Father who wanted me to have a future of hope.

How to Mix in This Ingredient

The Rosary! This devotion is indeed an ingredient of the
saints. It was given by the greatest saint, our Lady, to another
saint, St. Dominic, for the purpose of making us saints.

My recommendation is that you pray the Rosary regularly.
I will admit to you that I had many people give me that
same advice, and for years I resisted it. Perhaps for a week or a
month I would pray the Rosary regularly, then I would slack off
from the practice and quit praying it.

I encourage you to start by learning how to pray the Rosary
if you do not already know and then begin with one decade per

The Rosary is broken up into four sets of mysteries, and
each set is broken up into five decades. For instance, the Joyful
Mysteries are the first set, and the five decades that make up
this set are the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the
Presentation, and the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple.

Each decade consists of praying one Our Father, ten Hail
Marys (hence, “a decade”), and then a Glory Be and the Fatima

Praying one Rosary consists of praying all five decades of
one of the sets of mysteries, and that takes around twenty minutes.

But praying only one decade can be done in five minutes.

You simply choose a single mystery, for instance one of the
Sorrowful mysteries like “Jesus Carries His Cross” and then
pray the decade of prayers while meditating on that mystery.

Start with one decade per day and build up to a full Rosary.

Once you have prayed the Rosary several times, you can
discover and explore more aspects to it. Not only are there four
sets of mysteries (Joyful, Sorrowful, Luminous, and Glorious),
but also traditionally a particular set is prayed on certain days
of the week, varying also by which liturgical season the Church
is currently in (e.g. Lent, Advent, Easter, etc.).

Finally, while you can start with rosary made of cheap plastic,
I recommend buying a higher quality one made of stone,
wood, or metal, and you should ask a priest to bless it.
We now have four ingredients in your secret recipe of the
saints. Remember, I am revealing these ingredients to you as
I discovered them in my own life. As you read this book, you
can and should begin incorporating the ingredients into your
own life.

But, near the end of the book, I will share with you the ideal
way to “mix all the ingredients together for the recipe.” Some of
the most important ingredients I only found later in my life and
wished I had discovered them sooner. But you will benefit from
learning them now and being able to put them into practice.

Want to discover the other nineteen ingredients in the secret recipe of the saints?

Find them all in the book: https://www.lionheartcatholic.com/get-the-book


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