Vocations & Discernment

What is a vocation?

Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we all have one calling in our lives: holiness. However, this call to holiness will look different depending on our specific vocation. It’s important to listen and recognize the signs that determine how we are to answerour call. A vocation is a calling from the heart of God.  He calls in a gentle way and invites us to respond in freedom. Discerning a vocation takes time, prayer, reflection, patience and an openness to paying attention to God’s action – under the guidance of others.

Pope St John Paul II reminded us that ‘Love is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.’ As they walk in this path, people hear God calling them into discipleship, a living relationship with the person of Christ, a call that has three dimensions:

The universal call to holiness:
God the Father calls people to listen to his Son, to be baptised in the Holy Spirit and to live as disciples of Christ.
The call to a way of life:
A Christian disciple expresses their faith, hope and love through living as a consecrated person, an ordained minister or a lay person, in the married or single state.
The call to work:
God calls people to many different kinds of work, ranging from paid work to care of family members.  It is human beings who make work meaningful. Work constitutes one of the fundamental dimensions of a person’s earthly existence and of their vocation.

By the grace of God, a Christian is enabled to live out this unique vocation. In the words of Blessed John Henry Newman ‘God has created me to do Him some definite service.’

Discerning What is God’s Will for Your Life?

The process we follow to understand and answer our personal vocation is called discernment. Through prayer, reading, conversation with others and reflection, we can discover God’s plan for us.

Yet, today it is more difficult than in the past to discover God’s call. There are so many valuable ways that we can choose to live our lives. Yet, there are so many distractions that make it hard to hear God’s voice, which makediscerning a vocation a challenge.

Discovering My Vocation

To discern a vocation is to discover the person God wants you to be. The first step is to take seriously that God has called you through being baptised. He called you to baptism so that you could grow in love and in holiness of life, not only for your own sake but for the sake of others to whom you are sent. There comes a moment in a life of faith when a person takes seriously their personal call to holiness. The most difficult dimension to discern is the state of life to which Christ calls people. There are four basic states of life within the Catholic Church:

Each of these is vocational pathways is demanding and people require help to discern which of these vocations Christ is calling them to. There is a need to enter into a journey of discovery; to make a conscious choice to seek out the Lord’s will for your life.

We must ask, and as Samuel did after being instructed by Eli, we must listen. “Speak Lord for your servant is listening.” Elijah found God in the sheer silence; we too must create silent moments of prayer and reflection. The moretime you spend in prayer before the Lord, especially in Eucharistic Adoration, the greater sense of direction you will find. The careful and prayerful reading of Scripture isessential, through listening to God’s word, Jesus will awaken in our hearts a greater awareness of the path we should follow in life.

A good place to start seeking God’s will is to consider the deepest desires and longings of your heart. God reveals His will through our natural desires and abilities, building upon them with His Grace. God does not work in a vacuum, but rather works within our heart’s deepest desires.

Doing God’s will requires an openness to surrender your will to His will. This openness will always be a challenge even if God’s will issimple. Finally, to discover God’s will requires careful and prayerful discernment. According to the great Ignatius of Loyola, what comes from God is always accompanied with courage and strength, consolation, tears, inspirations and grace. On the other hand, what is not God’s will bring turbulence and incertitude. If God is calling you to be a priest, He will reveal it. Gather good information by asking a priest and reading good material, and above all pray for guidance and wisdom. God will reveal to you how He wants you to follow Him.