From the Office of Vocations
You’ve heard the term, made popular by Bl. Mother Teresa, “Come and See.” It’s used commonly now to refer to an immersion experience of discernment, whether it’s a short visit or an extended period of active discernment. It can be a great help if you’re doing everything you are supposed to, but seem “stuck” in your discernment.
Obviously, if you’re committed to a diligent discernment, you are living a moral life, making sure you are applying yourself to prayer and study of the Faith, being active in some sort of apostolate, and meeting regularly with a competent spiritual director, if possible. For some, God makes His will known through these things alone. But sometimes they do not result in a clear answer, and you may be left with the same (or even more!) uncertainty about where God is calling you to go with your life. In this case, God may be prompting you to take another step and “jump into the water.”
Take Kevin, for example. A couple of years ago, he acknowledged that God seemed to be calling him to discern the priesthood. He became more active in his parish, began reading about the Faith, praying every day, and his life is generally focused on discerning his vocation very strongly. For a year, he’s been in contact with the vocation director. However, God hasn’t given him a clear indication of what to do next. His spiritual director encouraged him to apply for seminary, and then see what direction God gives him.
God doesn’t always give an obvious answer. He may want you to show Him you’re willing to trust by handing over your insecurities and delving into a more radical discernment. A “Come and See” in the form of active formation (e.g. a house of studies program, seminary, or postulancy) shows God that you’re really willing to take the next step, and are ready to openly listen to His prompting. Once you do that, it’s crucial to be prepared to be patient and let God show you what He wants to do with you next. If you’re faithfully living the “Come and See,” He will show you whether it is His will that you continue; and if it is not His will, He will show you the path that He wants you to take next.
It’s easy in this situation to assume that, since God isn’t clearly saying “continue on this path,” He’s indicating a change of direction. But an important principle of the “Come and See” is that God will give some clear direction on the next step to take.
What’s nice about this approach is that you don’t have to worry about discovering or making a decision regarding your vocation. God does the work, either directly in your heart (sometimes it will be painfully obvious that you don’t fit in the formation program), or by external circumstances (maybe your formation director says it’s just not a good fit). There is no need for fretting over “figuring it out.” You just have to be faithful and patient until He speaks clearly.
Thank you for taking the time to consider your vocation. Be open with God and He will bless you greatly!
If you would like to talk about your vocation, give Fr. J.D. Jaffe, Vocations Director of the Diocese of Arlington, a call or send him an email.
This was originally featured in June of 2014 in the Diocese of Arlington’s Office of Vocations’s E-Newsletter Discernment, a monthly subscription-based email of vocations insights. These posts will be a monthly feature on Encourage & Teach to help those interested in learning more about vocations, to shed light on what it’s like living a vocation in everyday life, and as reminder to pray: for our priests and religious and that all people may discern and live their vocations with joy.