August 13 – Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

In my junior year of college, I took part in a silent retreat for the first time. This retreat came at the perfect time in my life. For years, I had been thinking about priesthood, but as I got older, I pushed it to the back of my mind. So by the time I got to this retreat, I felt like I had no idea what direction to go.

The priest directing the retreat told us that the reason we were dedicating this time to silence was so that we could hear God’s voice. On the last day of the retreat, during a Holy Hour where I told God, “Lord, I’ve given you these two whole days of silence. Please tell me what my vocation is. I am open to anything.” Within a minute, I felt a voice say, “What about diocesan priesthood?”

In the First Reading, Elijah waits in a cave for God to pass by. There are many loud and flashy events that he could have mistaken for God, but it is only in the still, small voice that he recognizes God. For most of us, taking a silent retreat is not an option. But we can take moments of silence throughout our day to listen for the voice of God. Then, we will be better able to hear His voice and recognize where He is working in our lives. But this is just the beginning.

After I felt the voice on the retreat, I was so angry that I stormed out of the chapel (even though I had helped plan the retreat). And in the months that followed, I tried to pretend I hadn’t heard that voice.

In the Gospel, Peter also recognizes God passing by, and he asks Jesus to call him to walk on the water. But when he takes his eyes off Jesus because he is distracted by the wind, he begins to sink. So what do we do after we recognize the voice of God?

I came to a point where I realized that I was almost trying to live a double life, feeling in my heart that God was calling me to priesthood while trying to plot my own path. But when I followed my own path, I began to sink. It was only then that I began to rely on God, saying with Peter, “Lord, save me!”

We also need to allow the voice of God we hear in prayer to affect our lives. We all need to ask God: “How are You calling me to follow You?” Next week, we will have a ministry fair where we will have the opportunity to have a taste of the many wonderful ministries our parish offers and discern how God is calling us to serve Him. When we take time to recognize the still, small voice of God in the silence, then we are better able to follow Him even if it means following Him out onto the water.

Father Frank