The Saint Who Is Just Me

There is a lot of conversation in the Church right now about discipleship. Many dioceses in the United States are really stepping up their discipleship efforts and are trying to fan the flame of the Holy Spirit that the Church received at Pentecost. It’s very exciting to see the different ways that this is manifesting itself at all levels of the Church. The Lord’s invitation to follow Him is extended to all people; men and women, children and adults, priests and lay faithful. We must continually ask the Lord how it is that He wants us to serve Him and His Church!

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One of the fatal flaws that many disciples have fallen into is to see another incredible disciple and want to copy and paste their life into his or her own life. It is certainly admirable to seek to follow the examples of holy men and women in our lives, especially the saints, but I am not called to be St. Catherine of Siena, St. John Paul, or St. Juan Diego (just a few of my favorites). I am called to be St. Mark Vojas, Jr., and nobody else has received that call except me. Likewise, you have received a unique call that no one else has received. One of my favorite Christian singer/ songwriters is Danielle Rose. One of her songs is entitled, “The Saint That is Just Me.” In this song she names many beautiful saints and some of their attributes that she thought she would try to emulate in her own life, but then in the chorus, she expresses one of the deep truths of discipleship. Speaking to the Lord, she sings;

“When You hung upon the cross looking at me,

You didn’t die so I could try to be somebody else.

You died so I could be the saint that is just me.”

This beautiful reminder can be difficult for any disciple, but I think it can be especially difficult for men in the seminary. We have grown up learning about the saints, as well as receiving inspiration from great and holy priests in our lives. These great inspirations call us to great heights of holiness, but can sometimes prevent us from looking deeply at ourselves to consider how the Lord wants to use us for a unique and specific purpose. We can be tempted to say, “I want to be just like Saint So-And-So,” or “As a priest, I can’t wait to do blah-blah-blah just like Fr. Something-Or-Other always did,” which is okay, but if we stop there, we are short-changing the Lord. If we only seek to emulate the greatness that we have witnessed in others, we fail to offer the Lord the greatness that He has planted deep within us!

Many people ask why I want to be a priest. Seminarians have to get good at answering that question very quickly! It’s interesting to me to consider how my answer to this question has evolved through my two and a half years as a seminarian. My answer has evolved from a genuine, but somewhat general desire to celebrate the sacraments, to a more particular desire to use the gifts that the Lord has given me specifically to be His hands and feet in the world. The more that I come to know myself, the more effective instrument I will be for Him to reveal Himself to the People of God as well as to those who do not know Him. My favorite saint, Catherine of Siena, when writing to her friend said, “If you are who you were made to be, you will set the world ablaze!” (She actually said “you will set all of Italy ablaze,” but you get the idea.) This is what my desire to be a priest is centered on because to authentically become who I am meant to be is to become more like Christ.

I hope this last verse of “The Saint That Is Just Me” will give you the confidence to run to the Lord to become who you were made to be so you can set all of Italy the world ablaze!

“…If it weren’t for my sins and wounds and weakness,

Then you wouldn’t have married me upon the cross.

Why do I fear being seen naked and broken?

That’s why You came; cause I needed you that much.

When You hung upon the cross looking at me,

You didn’t die so I would try to be somebody else.

You died so I could be the saint that is just me.”

Let this be our prayer. Let this be your prayer for the seminarians! May we seek to be the disciples, the SAINTS, that the Lord has made us to be. He sees our weakness. He knows that we fail. He wants us anyway. Let this bring us peace.

Mark Vojas- Jr

Mark J. Vojas, Jr. is a seminarian studying for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois and is a member of the Class of 2019.