“If a soul loves God enough to sacrifice what it most deeply desires (love and family), then it can be sure that God will care for its needs, and clear the path towards fulfilling His holy will, whether it be the married state, being single, religious or consecrated life, or Holy Orders.”
Usually, it’s when we are young adults when we make the biggest life choices.
The subject of this life choice can be on: professional life, family relationships (with parents…), choosing a state of life, friendships, life balance, …
It is also at this time that the Lord teaches us about the direction of our life, our VOCATION!
Vocation comes from the Latin word, vocare, “to call.” It is a calling, a calling from God, who made us, loves us, and has a plan for us. So, in general terms your vocation is what God calls you to do with your life.
Everybody is called by God to know, love and serve him. The difference is how each one does this.
God gives each one of us a particular mission in life. As we grow and life progresses, he makes it known to us, usually in indirect ways, more as an invitation than an imposition.
Individual (specific) vocations vary between being single, married, consecrated, religious or a priest. However, we usually use “Vocation” to mean a call to the consecrated, religious or priestly life.
Discovering and ultimately following your vocation gives the greatest glory and praise to our Creator. It is what we were meant to do. to fulfill the will of God, because this is the key to your true destiny, eternal happiness.
When you seek to discover God’s call in your life, you enter a time of discernment. The dictionary defines discern as: to separate, to sort out, to sift through.
Discernment, then, is a time of sifting and sorting. Discernment is also a time to see with the eyes of your heart so that you can choose life in God. It is a time when you allow yourselves to be open to God’s will, and it is an opportunity to allow your hearts to guide your mind more than only trusting your own reasoning.
Discernment, then, is different from simply making a decision about a career path or lifestyle. Discernment starts in faith, where we acknowledge God as the source of vocation, involve God in the decision-making process through prayer, and actively listen for God’s will.
- some steps -
- Become aware. You are called to listen to God, to yourselves, and to those around you.
- If you are to listen to God, then prayer is essential. You need to take time to be in conversation with God, to ask God for help and guidance. As you read the gospels you find that before every major decision Jesus went off alone to pray. He did this prior to choosing the 12 apostles, and he spent much time in prayer as he prepared for his Passion and death.
- Know yourself. God, who will sanctify us through our vocation, has already endowed us with a certain nature. Ordinarily the grace of our vocation will build upon this nature. An awareness of our personal gifts and weaknesses can help us considerably in gaining a sense of which vocations are possible for us and which are probably not wise paths for us to take. Along these lines it is also important to listen to our hearts, to be attentive to those relationships and activities that give us the most peace and joy. In addition, our dreams and desires are significant. These may even be the promptings of the Holy Spirit showing us ways to creatively respond to God’s call.
- Ask for help. No one can discern a vocation alone. As one progresses a little bit along the path of discernment, a spiritual director, a consecrated brother or sister is often necessary, especially if one is discerning priesthood or consecrated life. Someone with whom you can share your prayer, your relationship with God, your questions, and your fears. A spiritual director can help you sort and sift and discover where God may be leading you. If you are discerning a call to a particular community, part of this step involves conversing with a priest or a consecrated brother or sister from that community.
- Frequent the Sacraments. Go to confession often, and to daily Mass if possible. Also spend an hour in Eucharistic Adoration daily, if possible. It is unimaginable how many graces God grants a soul through Eucharistic Adoration.
- Live a healthy social life; avoiding of course friendships or atmospheres that go against Christian values. Pay attention to your duties (study, family, work, etc.).Wake up early and spend some time in prayer or spiritual reading. Before going to bed, spend time in prayer and make an examination of conscience for your actions for the day.
- Be involved in evangelization. Some examples: helping start a discussion group, a prayer group or a Bible study, helping in a youth group, doing door-to-door evangelization.
- Choose a key virtue or two that you need to work on, depending on what you realize is your weak point. (For example: patience, responsibility, charity, self-control etc.) Choose just one! We all need to work on all the virtues, but choosing one actually helps us to work on all of them, almost without realizing it.