The icon, near which I am standing, has been of special significance in my life. Recently I had an opportunity to pray in front of it and to give thanks to the Lord and to the Mother of God herself in the place which is very dear to my heart.
Twenty three years ago there happened an event that has really changed my life. On a winter day, after having lived in St. Onuphrius monastery of Lavriv for several months and attending daily the Holy Liturgy, the Vespers and the Matins, often having confession and taking the Communion, I kneeled for the first time in front of the icon of the Mother of God and prayed sincerely. Do you imagine? For the first time in my whole life! I don’t know what I have been doing for all these previous 17 years but I have prayed insincerely. I remember it happened after the Vespers: it was dark in the church and I was alone. I somehow started praying in my own words. I was praying about choosing my state of life. After finishing school I didn’t enter any educational institution since I wanted to be simultaneously a doctor, a teacher, a serviceman and even a cook. I am grateful to my parents that they didn’t put pressure on me and didn’t make my choice instead of me. But when I was going to the monastery, it was not surely for becoming a monk or a priest. I went there since I didn’t know what I wanted. And only in the moment when I prayed for the first time in my life sincerely, as an adult, I felt in a strange way that I wanted to be a priest and to serve God. I also remember that tears flew out of my eyes and it really surprised me. I never forgot about this moment since it was crucial in my life. For the first time I knew exactly what I wanted.
Why am I writing about it here? It looks like sharing something very intimate. I just know many broken lives of young people when their parents made a tragedy out of their child’s choice of life and “forced” them to study where they had “a pull”. I know young people who entered seminaries and even became priests but did it to please their parents but not God. And how often happens that young people choose their state of life being guided by material interests but not by their “in-born work” as Gregory Skovoroda called it. I will definitely not make a tragedy if my son will not enter a technical college or a university chosen by him on his own. And I will not push on him to make a decision. All I will advise him will be to go to the church and try to pray for the first time in his life sincerely, without constraint, as an adult man. The first year after school is very important. And it’s not a must for a high school graduate to enter immediately some educational institution. If this year is spent for thinking seriously over one’s vocation, it won’t be definitely a wasted year.
God speaks to everyone in a different way. All we need is not to hurry and try to listen. The best way for it is our sincere prayer. It turned out helpful to me and I hope it can be also helpful to others.
Published by Oleh Kobel
Читай українською: Як я відчув, що маю стати священиком
Fr. Oleh Kobel takes pastoral care of youth in village Kavske (Lviv region). He is Director of the UGCC Department of Pastoral Care by Sport, Head of the Commission “Justice and Peace”, Assistant of the UGCC Bureau of Ecology in UGCC Stryy eparchy.