WHAT AM I CALLED TO?
All of us are on a journey - from the moment of our conception to the moment of our death - and beyond. Just as for the person on a ship or the person walking down the street, we continually move forward on that journey of our life. At different stages of life different tendencies might dominate: obedience and learning or over-confidence or a tentative stepping forward, for example.
In our relationship with God, we are called, like children, to a deeper sense of trust in Him. As the Good Shepherd, Christ invites us to follow Him, to rely upon Him, to hand over control to Him - in order that we might grow in freedom and be led to green pastures.
How do we learn to listen for and recognise His voice?
Certainly, we need to take the time to listen, look, slow down, reflect and go beyond our superficial desires. We need to listen to the Lord who calls to us in the depth of our being. Each of us needs time to realise that God may be (in fact, He most certainly is) calling each and every one of us daily! As Jesus said Come, follow me!
THE UNIVERSAL CALL TO HOLINESS
The universal call to holiness is rooted in our baptism.
It is a call to know, love and serve the Lord. It invites us into a deeper relationship with God. We should feel a growing desire to love God and to love our neighbour. We come to understand that there is meaning in our lives and a purpose for our existence. God has called us all to do some “definite purpose” for him. It is part of the adventure of our lives as friends of Christ, to work out what that particular purpose is to be. It can take a long time to work out what God’s plan for us is, so we should not worry if it is not blatantly obvious what it is, and therefore allow ourselves plenty of time pray and reflect about it might be.
The universal call to holiness is an ongoing conversion experience. It continually opens our eyes to a fresh awareness of God’s loving presence in our lives. It keeps inviting us to turn toward God by aiming to make God’s will, our own will.
A willingness to do God’s will is built on two pillars.
We have to believe that God loves us more than we love ourselves and that God wants our happiness more than we want it. In other words, we have to believe that God knows more than we do about what will make us truly happy. We are to trust that God’s will for us is our only chance to find true and lasting happiness.
People often say, “I’m not sure what I want to do with my life.” But that’s the wrong approach. The real question should be, “What is God asking me to do with my life based on the gifts he has given to me? How can I use those gifts to make a difference in the world and to serve others, and in so doing, also be a source of fulfillment for me?” For some people, the answer to that is marriage and family life; for others, it might be a single way of life; but, for some, it’s definitely the priesthood, diaconate or religious life. So, the question should be: “What is God calling me to do?”
Latin vocatio, a calling, summoning;
from vocare, to call.
While most people think of a vocation as what they are called to do in life, it is important to understand that the first and most important call from God, is a call to be holy. We are all called through our Baptism to share in Christ’s mission to be like him. This call to holiness means we are all called to live a life of friendship with God through Jesus Christ, recognising our dignity as beloved sons & daughters of our heavenly Father.
“Vocation” means a “call” (from the Latin ‘vocare’). 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. We live this Universal Call to Holiness in a specific way (Particular Vocation) in Marriage, Religious Life, Priesthood, or in the Single State.
God gives each one of us this particular mission in life. In the one life God gave you to live, you have one overriding purpose, to fulfil the will of God, because this is the key to your true destiny, eternal happiness. As we grow and life progresses, he makes it known to us, usually in indirect ways, more as an invitation than an imposition.
A Vocation is not created, but it is discovered. It is a gift from God. Discovering and ultimately following your vocation gives the greatest glory and praise to our Creator. It is what we were meant to do. “Take up your cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34).
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. Work on its own does not give meaning to life however; 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.’
The distinctive way that a person integrates all three elements expresses the irreplaceable person God is calling them to be. 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.’
When we give of ourselves, we come to know who we are, and we come to the greatest joy and happiness we can have in this world. We come to know in what way we can glorify God the most in this world. It is through giving that we receive. Every vocation, being a gift to others, is lived in a concrete, particular form, because love is always concrete and particular. A vocation begins with God’s love for us. In His love for us, God calls us to a particular form of life.
In the Gospel according to St. John, Jesus said: You did not choose me, but I chose you (John 15:16). His choice for us is what makes a vocation different from an occupation or a career. We can choose an occupation or a career for ourselves, but a vocation is HIS choice for us and which He invites us to accept, embrace and undertake for love of Him. His choice for us will never be contrary to our true happiness.
Often, we are taught to ask, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” or “What life will I choose?” The better way to think is, “What does God desire for me?”, “What life will bring God the greatest glory?” and ultimately to say,
“I want what God wants because I know that what He wants is going to give Him the greatest glory and give me the greatest joy.”
“You did not choose me,
but I chose you”.
It is vital that we find our vocation because it is from God and is intended to bring us the fulfilment and joy that He wants for us. Our happiness, and ultimately our salvation can depend on our acceptance of the mission that Jesus has chosen for us. Moreover, other people’s salvation will depend on us giving our full “Yes” to Jesus in our vocation.