By: Bishop Paul S. Loverde
With schedules crawling to a summer pace as vacations and long weekends appear on the horizon, along with prioritizing which tasks need to be accomplished each day and what meetings should be scheduled each week, we may find ourselves with more time to consider some deeper questions. This is a time to commit ourselves to asking with renewed curiosity: “Where is God leading me? How may I become an instrument to bring others closer to Him?”
These larger questions naturally encourage a consideration of one’s vocation. While the word “vocation” is used in a variety of ways, as a Church we understand it as a calling from God to which we are asked to respond. Blessed Pope John Paul II poses to us this question:
“What do you seek, pilgrims? Each one of us here must ask himself this question. But you above all, since you have your life ahead of you. I invite you to decide definitively the direction of your way. With the very words of Christ, I ask you: ‘What do you seek’? (Jn 1:38). Do you seek God? The spiritual tradition of Christianity not only underlines the importance of our search for God. It highlights something more important still: it is God who looks for us. He comes out to meet us” (Pope John Paul II, Compostela, Spain, 1989).
The challenges of discerning one’s vocation may make us feel as if we are divided into two camps: those of us who “have one” and those of us “who do not yet have one.” While it is true that some have not yet fully discovered God’s will for their calling in life, each of us is called on a day-to-day basis to discern how God wants to work through us. Every day, each of us must take seriously that daily charge to live for Christ, in every aspect of our work, our relationships and our prayer.
Being caught up in the celebration and joy of those occasions, when we see the smiling faces of new priests or newly married couples, we may forget all the sacrifices and choices that were made before each person arrived at that point. Recently ordained priests or new spouses did not reach that pivotal moment without considerable discernment and dedication to living lives of holiness. Each of them asked deep questions, facing their own lives with honesty: “How am I called to live my life?” “How may I best serve God?” “Will I give my life to the Church?” “Is this person next to me the one I want to live with for the rest of my given years?”
Intellectually, it is easy to understand that in major decisions, timing is extremely important and, as the familiar adage tells us, that “good things come to those who wait.” Practically speaking, however, living with patience and commitment to the present day can be stressful and taxing, especially when one is young and bursting forth with energy. Young people often understand very clearly that they are called to do great things for Christ, but sometimes, waiting for the “what” and the “when,” that comes with true discernment may lead to discouragement or the temptation to doubt that the Lord has a plan.
I urge you brothers and sisters, to be at peace and know that God does indeed have a plan for each of us – a very special and unique plan! You need only to look to priests that you admire or couples for whom you have great respect to know that Our Lord also desires to call you to a life of happiness with Him.
Regardless of where you are in your vocational discernment, I encourage you to view summer as a time to take a step back, to ask Our Lord about the major decisions in your life and to take the next step on the path of holiness on which He is leading you! Keep in mind that every day, God calls us to the joy of deepening intimacy with Him. After all, this is the universal vocation to holiness, from which every other more specific vocation flows.