Have a question? Want to know more about religious life and priesthood? Interested in a Eucharistic life?
Below are some commonly asked questions we received in the vocation office from men discerning their vocation.
If you have a question that you want answered, feel free to contact Father Anthony Marshall, SSS – Vocation Director.
What is a vocation?
Simply put, a vocation is a calling, received in Baptism and sealed in Confirmation, from God to be holy in a specific way of life. It is not a career; not something that you do but who you are. All of the baptized are called to be holy as either single or married lay persons, consecrated sisters (nuns) or brothers, deacons, priests, or bishops.
No matter what one does for a career, he is called to be in communion with God and His Church, and thus to be holy.
Being a Blessed Sacrament priest or brother is one particular avenue to holiness and Eucharistic service in the Church. Are you called to share in our mission?
What should I do if I think I’m called to be a priest or brother?
First it is important to be active in your parish or campus ministry and speak to someone about your desires and thoughts such as your parents, a priest, a teacher, a religious sister or brother.
You don’t have to be certain, but if you’re considering this vocation probably the most important thing to do is pray about it, especially before the Blessed Sacrament. Try participating in daily Mass and listening to the Scriptures and think what they tell you about your life.
Nobody is worthy of any vocation: marriage, priesthood or religious life. Jesus Himself makes us worthy of His love through the Sacraments of His Church and His life-Blood poured out for the forgiveness of our sins upon the Cross.
If you feel that you would like help in discerning God’s will for you in your life, please contact Father Anthony Marshall, SSS, our Vocation Director, at (440) 442-7243
What if I am not ready to apply?
You are not alone. We have many men who come to see and experience our way of life at our Come and See weekend experiences. You might want to meet regularly with a spiritual director or your parish priest.
The Vocation Director will help you through the discernment process. Call Father Anthony Marshall, SSS (440) 442-7243 or e-mail us at [email protected] It is not easy to make such a lifetime commitment, but God’s love and grace are what sustain each person in his life’s vocation.
What does S.S.S. stand for?
S.S.S. stands for three Latin words, Societas Sanctissimi Sacramenti, which in English translates to Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament.
These letters after our name mean that we have professed vows to God in this religious congregation.
How do you provide for yourself if you vow poverty?
Like Jesus, we wish to live a life of evangelical poverty. The vow of poverty that we profess proclaims that God is our only real treasure, our inheritance. Our life is marked by simplicity and moderation. By putting all our resources in common, we free ourselves from all attachment to riches so that we may depend entirely upon God.
Do you give up your freedom if you vow obedience?
The short answer is no! God made us with free-will and nothing can take this away!
After the example of Christ who, out of love, completely fulfilled His Father’s will, even to the giving of His life, we profess (vow) obedience, in order to serve the Church in complete freedom and to share in the mission of our Congregation. By the vow of obedience we commit ourselves, in openness to the Holy Spirit, to obey our legitimate superiors, according to our Rule of Life and the norms of the Church, as well as the Holy Father, our highest superior.
Why can’t priests or brothers be married?
During His life, Jesus remained totally free to devote Himself to the Kingdom. Following His example, we vow ourselves to celibate chastity. We attach ourselves to Christ and His mission.
Our vows express our consecration to God in the service of the Church, with an undivided heart and we bear witness to a world yet to come in the spirit of the Beatitudes.
What vows do you profess and why?
By our profession of religious life we respond to the call of the Lord who invites us to leave all things to follow Him, and so we publicly commit ourselves within the Church to live in chastity, poverty, and obedience.
The reason for these vows, in short, is that religious profession incorporates us into a community of brothers and expresses our determination to live the Gospel in a radical way.
How do you determine various house duties?
One determines his duties by the gifts, talents, and abilities that he has. For example, if one is a good cook, and loves to share his gift of cooking, we have him share in the cooking!
Since our communities are our homes, we each take the responsibility of cleaning and maintaining the institutions and properties where we live and work. The Local Superior is instrumental in assuring the life in each local community is well-ordered and faithful to the charism of our Congregation.
How do you choose where to live and what ministry you do?
We discern how we can best be of service to the Congregation and the Church with our Provincial Superior who determines and assigns us to our particular ministries/communities.
Do you wear a habit?
Our founder, Saint Peter Julian Eymard, wore the Roman Cassock and sash as did the other priests of his time.
Today, our priests and brothers may wear the Roman Cassock. As a distinctive sign of being a Blessed Sacrament priest or brother, the cassock can be worn with an image of the monstrance. Those who are priests wear the Roman collar with the cassock and sash.
Most of our priests or brothers, however, usually wear a black suit and Roman Collar shirt. In some of our communities, our Religious wear an alb for the praying of the Divine Office and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
What are your living conditions like?
Each religious has his own room, which he can decorate and arrange to his own liking. Our priests or brothers who are working in a particular ministry (e.g., pastor, local Superior, faculty member, editor, etc.) also have an office either in the rectory or at their specific ministry location (e.g., hospital chaplain’s office).
Every house has common areas, such as a chapel, dining room, community lounge/TV room, and usually a library. In each house the community reserves for itself areas of silence, prayer, and study. We willingly welcome guests in areas set aside for this purpose.
Come and see for yourself!
Are you allowed to take vacations and visit your family?
Like most people, we have an annual vacation period which we take to visit family and friends. Additionally, some of our family members and friends come and stay in our communities for their vacations! For anniversaries of religious profession or ordination, we might take a pilgrimage in honor of that milestone. Studies and ministry may also require one to travel more frequently.
Are you a cloistered or an apostolic community?
We are an active apostolic community. Our mission, modeled after St. Peter Julian Eymard, is to respond to the hungers of the human family with the riches of God’s love manifested in the Eucharist. While our houses do have private areas for silence, prayer and study, we occasionally have visitors in for meals and social events as well as functions outside of the community.
Our communities do not live for themselves, but create an environment wherein our men search for God and make His Eucharistic love known to everyone.
What do you do all day?
We pray morning prayer (Lauds) and evening prayer (Vespers) from the Liturgy of the Hours – Divine Office – together. Daily, we celebrate Mass. Since we primarily staff parishes, Mass is usually celebrated with the parish community. Faithful to the tradition received from our Founder, we spend at least one hour each day in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. This prayer forms part of our mission and has priority in the life of each religious.
Dinner is usually taken together in common. Most communities have a cook for many of the meals. Often, we gather prior to the evening meal to share community life and the stories of one’s day and ministry.
The rest of one’s own day is filled with the particular ministerial task of the religious. Our religious do many different things, from parish ministry to writing, teaching, chaplaincy, etc., all trying to witness to our Eucharistic life and spirituality.
Is there an age limit to join?
Generally speaking, vocation candidates are limited to men, age 18-40. Recent statistics indicate that the average age of men coming to religious life today is 28 years old.