Greetings brother and sisters,
Each year the Church promotes a particular week in which we are encouraged to pray for vocation awareness among all people and especially our young people. This year that is November 7-13. I would like to share with you some of the most important things to be aware of in vocation discernment.
First, let us pray for vocations each and every day. And, let us keep in mind that each human being has a vocation, a call from God to be who he or she was created to be. This might seem obvious to some but it is most certainly not something that is accepted and promoted in general in our world. In fact, it seems more common to hear, “You can be whomever you want to be” than to be who God created you to be. To believe that I can be whomever I want to be is to imply that I created myself and that, of course, is absurd. I was not even involved in the decision to come into this world! Others made that decision for me. Where I was brought into this world, into which family, what color of skin, eyes, hair…all not decided by me! Where do I get the idea that at some point I can decide all of these things on my own? From a misunderstanding of what is meant by free will.
I am free to decide, and this is certainly true. And yet, that freedom is given to me so that I can freely choose to be who I have been created to be. Unlike the rest of creation, which is what it is and is not free to be otherwise, God wanted human beings to freely choose to accept who he created each one of them to be. He has been calling us to do just that from the moment each one of us was conceived. He will not oblige us to discover and follow his call and he will never cease calling us! We have a decision to make but it is not to decide who I am but to decide if I will accept who God created me to be or not.
In my vocation ministry, I often speak of the two “d” verbs in reference to our vocation: to discover and to decide. I am to discover who I am, not decide. God will and is helping me in that discovery. He also provides other people and circumstances to make that discovery. In fact, every person and every situation in my life has something to say to me about my vocation and can help me in discovering that call. After this discovery, then I need to put into action the other “d” verb: I need to freely decide to live my life according to this discovered call. This is not always an easy decision to make, particularly when the discovered vocation is not completely clear or goes against what I think I want.
Here is another area of importance in vocation awareness. Be aware that discovering my vocation is not always easy and is always necessary for my fulfillment as a human being. I must not give up! God is calling me and is on my side! Who he has created me to be will be made clear to me in his time. I just need to continue searching and being open to his call. And, once I discover that vocation, I can be sure that following this call will be the best for me and for others because it is who I truly am, even if it might seem too difficult or complicated. God will give me the strength and grace needed to be faithful to his call.
Finally we need to be aware that though most of us are being called to be married and to raise families, there are some of us being called to be brothers, sisters, priests and deacons in the Church. And, that these vocations are vital for the life and ministry of the Church. If God is calling me to one of these vocations, then my positive response is necessary not only for my happiness and fulfillment but also for the good of the Church. To not accept this call, is to do true harm to the Church and so to the world. Serious stuff and we need to remember this. May God grant us all an open heart and mind to discover his call and to decide to follow generously and completely.
Fr. Brian, OSJ