One of the most common questions we get as kids is: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” When you’re only 7, it’s easy enough to throw out an answer or two that satisfies the listener – maybe a teacher, a policeman, or a doctor. But by the time you’re 17, people expect a more serious and thoughtful response. Perhaps a better question is: “What does God want for me? What is His plan for my life?” Over the next several weeks, we will be running a series of short articles for those of you who are reflecting on your future. From a Christian perspective, discernment is that process by which we seek to know God’s will for us. Our hope, at Swords of Truth, is that we can help you to begin (or continue) this process and thus answer with confidence this fundamental question: “So, what’s my vocation?”
There’s an interesting phenomenon in our culture when it comes to making decisions. We spend so much time fretting over things of little consequence but then fail to properly consider those decisions of greatest importance – the ones with the most lasting effect. By far, the biggest question any of us will ever face in life is this: “What is my vocation?” Discerning a vocation is not like any other ordinary decision in life. It is of utmost importance because God does indeed have a path marked out for each of us – one that will bring us the most fulfillment and peace in this life.
In Catholic circles, this word ‘vocation’ gets tossed around a lot, usually in reference to the priesthood or religious life. It’s a bit misunderstood, and thus can be confusing or even a little scary. A vocation is simply a unique calling from God to love Him through a particular path of life. As Scripture tells us, “We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4: 19). As such, every vocation is a call to a deeper love in truth – the truth of who I am in light of my existence. When seen through this lens, we discover that embracing a life’s vocation is really all about falling in love with God and trying to live our lives most fully in doing His will. For most people, this will mean the married life. For others, it will certainly be the priesthood or religious life. And for some, it is a calling to the single life.
However, since the typical ways that we go about making decisions cannot really be applied to the question of a vocation, we are often at a loss when it comes to considering the options. It’s not as if we are buying a new car and must simply list the pros and cons to see which side wins out. We can’t even look at it as we would in comparing various job options – making “if, then” flow charts while trying to anticipate which has the greatest potential benefit to us personally. So, how do we know what God wants?
For most of us, the bigger question is rather: “Am I willing to let go and let God?” The starting point is accepting that our loving Father does have a plan for each and every one of us, His children. Whether we choose to cooperate or not with that plan is up to us, for He will never force His will upon us. Rather, He invites us to follow the example of His divine Son – He who throughout all His life echoed the following: “I have come down from heaven not to do my will, but the will of Him who sent me” (Jn 6:38). To imitate our Lord’s disposition of complete abandonment will undoubtedly require a lot of trust. But when we let go of our own ideas and plans, He can introduce us to a life of unimaginable grace and peace. When we let go and let God, then we can be assured of hearing the Father’s voice, every once in a while, echoing within the depths of our souls: “You are my beloved, and with you, I am well pleased.”
“Hail the Cross, Our Only Hope”
– A Retreat to the Sisters of the Precious Blood by Fr. Cristino
Meditation 1- “The Cross: Our Vocation” [audio https://swordsoftruth.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/precious-blood-retreat-meditation-1.mp3]
Meditation 2- “The Cross & the Evangelical Counsels” [audio https://swordsoftruth.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/precious-blood-retreat-meditation-2.mp3]