Discerning the Right Vocation In My Life
Team ICM
14th May, 2018
Discerning the Right Vocation In My Life

This Blog is by courtesy of https://indiancatholicmatters.org/how-do-we-discern-vocation-as-growth-in-stewardship/

Fr. Adrian Mascarenhas –

Concerning this question, I believe that the most important verse to keep in mind is Luke 16:10 which is talking about stewardship. In this verse, Jesus says: “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.”

The importance of this verse is that it helps place your question in the right context. One cannot jump directly to the discernment of a vocation. One has to begin by discerning the small things in life and trying to remain faithful even when it is difficult. That is why obedience to one’s parents, one’s teachers and one’s parish and diocese is probably the best preparation for a vocation.

Vocation as a response

A vocation is basically an inner awareness that one is called to love God with all one’s heart, and love one’s neighbour as oneself. This awareness grows in response to God’s word and also in response to various situations in one’s life, when one is called to love and serve. Loving God and neighbour as a lifelong commitment can be put into practice in different ways – through the priesthood, the religious life, married life or even remaining single for the Lord. The main point should always be, however, choosing others – and the Lord – rather than oneself. Remaining single because one does not want to face problems, for example, is not exactly a vocation.

Vocation begins at home

Since a vocation is all about love, the process of discernment also boils down to a growth in love. This begins at home where we practice loving God and loving our “neighbours” i.e. the other members of our family. If we fail at this stage, there is no point in going forward and trying to become a priest or religious. However, if we are faithful in the little things demanded of us in the family – living in peace with all people, sharing what we have, participating in the joys and sorrows of the family, and being open to the poor and the needy, then we can reach the next stage, namely: is God calling me to a larger role. The question then becomes: what is God calling me to sacrifice in order to fulfil this role.

Every vocation is to serve

If one is called to serve the community with all one’s heart in a position of leadership, one should then ask whether God is calling one to follow Christ with an undivided attention, by sacrificing one’s worldly interests such as family, wealth and personal will. If one is prepared to make these sacrifices, then there is a good chance that one has a vocation to be a priest or a religious. There are two ways of testing this: first, allow nature to take its own course by seeing whether the desire persists over several years. Do not jump immediately into a way of life that may be challenging for you. Listen also to the guidance of your elders, though the decision is ultimately your own and not theirs. Pray to the Holy Spirit to help you to be a better listener.

Secondly, there also has to be confirmation from the Church – so by all means speak to an experienced priest or religious about your desires, and find out whether he/she thinks that you can make it. The most important discernment from the Church takes place during the years of formation in the seminary or institute, in which the Church leaders decide whether you have all the necessary characteristics to be a good minister.

Different paths but one Christ

There is another angle to discernment, namely, that in addition to the desire to follow Christ, one might have a strong charism or gift (such as teaching, or selfless service to the poor) or one might also be drawn to a particular saint who exemplified the Christian life, such as Mother Teresa or St. Francis of Assisi. In this case, one must discern whether one is drawn to a particular religious order or congregation within the church. Once again, the best discernment would be to explain your own desires to a member of that religious congregation, and allow them to guide you with your discernment. Ultimately, every vocation is to follow Christ, though any of the saints may be our inspiration to do so.

A Lifelong Commitment

Finally, no discernment provides you with absolute security. Our God is a God of surprises and we may never know all that he has in store for us, but we are sometimes limited; our character and values may even change over the years. Choose a path and be committed, but remember that a vocation is like a marriage – it is a process of growth in love. There may be ups and downs, there may be times of uncertainty when you feel like turning the clock back, but ultimately, as long as you are in love, you are on the right track. Never give up on a commitment. Take all the time you need to decide, but once you do, make sure you get into it with the intention that whatever happens, your vows and your self-sacrifice is your lifelong gift to the Church.

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