by Father Scott Wallisch
In case you were ever wondering — yes, I have a handful of fears.
I fear wasps, thanks to being emotionally scarred after sitting on a nest of them when I was little. I fear drowning, mostly because when it comes to swimming, I am the antithesis to Michael Phelps. And I fear heights, but only if I’m holding something of value that could be dropped (which is why I refuse to say Mass on cliffs).
I am not alone in my fears. Well, I’m not alone in having fears. We all have fears. Some, like mine, are illogical. Some, though, are legitimate. If a hungry tiger is running at you, it is pretty legitimate to be in fear. In fact, this fear is a good response if it moves us to actions that save our lives and the lives of others.
When it comes to discerning our vocation, though, fear has no place. I often talk with young men and women who are fearful of various aspects of their possible vocation. When a young man thinks about the priesthood, perhaps he will experience fear of being lonely. Maybe a young woman thinking about religious life fears that she will lose her connection to her family. Conversely, a young person may fear that he or she would not be patient enough as a parent.
Seeing these fears, young people often respond as if a tiger was chasing them, running in the other direction. They think that the fears indicate that they are not called to a particular vocation.
On the other hand, sometimes people fear that God will be mad at them if they do not choose a certain vocation.
But God does not use fear to guide us. Think how often in Scripture we hear God or his messengers encourage people not to fear or be afraid. In fact, these messages encouraging peace are often connected with calls to action.
Judges, prophets and kings are emboldened not to fear their enemies. Mary and Joseph are both told, to “not be afraid” when discovering God’s will for their lives. Jesus frequently reassures his apostles not to fear as they go out to do his will.
God is a God of peace. He moves us with peaceful assurance of his guidance and grace. When we are discerning his will, therefore, we look for peace. If we instead find fear, we can be sure that the Enemy, and not God, has placed it in our hearts. We therefore should ask God to remove the fear so we can discern more clearly.
So friends, do not be afraid. Ask God to peacefully show you his will for your life, and then respond with courage!
I think your column may have just saved my life, in the physical sense. Thank you.