Discovering My Vocation
To discern a vocation is to discover the person God wants you to be. The first step is to take seriously that God has called you to be a baptised person. He called you to baptism so that you could grow in love and in holiness of life, not only for your own sake but for the sake of others to whom you are sent. You may be called to be their marriage partner or their priest or their religious sister, their teacher or their workmate or their boss. You are called to serve and to call others.
The key ways to discover that God is calling you to holiness are: the celebration of the sacraments, all of which flow from baptism; personal prayer, especially silent prayer when we invite God to speak to us; discovering the lives of the saints, the saints in scripture and the saints of modern times, who inspire us to live generously. Finally, good advice from a spiritual advisor can be a turning point for many people. All these ways come together by going on pilgrimage or on retreat, moments when people can find themselves seized by the love of God in life changing ways.
There comes a moment in a life of faith when a person takes seriously their personal call to holiness. Then the other two dimensions of Christian vocation are opened up. (see ‘What is a vocation?’ for further explanation.) The most difficult dimension to discern is the state of life to which Christ calls people. There are four basic states of life within the Catholic Church: marriage, religious life, priesthood and the single state as a lay person. Each of these is demanding and people need help to discern which of these Christ is calling them to. There is a need to enter consciously into a process of discovery; to make a conscious choice to seek out the Lord’s will for your state of life is itself an important stage on the vocational journey. Once that choice is made, then the community of the Church offers you various ways forward. You can ask to speak to a priest and he might then help you find a spiritual director to accompany you over a number of months. You can join the growing numbers of people who meet together in groups to help each other discern their vocation.
Blessed Charles de Foucauld
“God calls all the souls he has created to love him with their whole being, here and thereafter, which means that he calls all of them to holiness, to perfection, to a close following of him and obedience to his will.
But he does not ask all souls to show their love by the same works, to climb to heaven by the same ladder, to achieve goodness in the same way. What sort of work, then, must I do? Which is my road to heaven? In what kind of life am I to sanctify myself?”
These discernment groups take different forms: some are a monthly meeting open to all to come and go as they wish; some are groups that you join and commit to for a set period, usually an academic year; some meet in an evening and some are residential for either a weekend once a month or for a continuous residence of nine months. Women and men alike are usually welcome to join these groups, although some are single gender groups. For information on the different groups taking place throughout the country, please click here.
The discernment of the work dimension of your vocation usually flows from a clear sense of the previous dimensions: for someone with a sense of their call to holiness, some work will not be acceptable; for a married person, earning an income to support a family is an important consideration; for a member of a religious order, obedience to the community is the key element in work. In situations of unemployment, the Christian seeks to undertake work of some kind as a volunteer in order to fulfill their human dignity and to participate in society. The Church helps people to discover that God’s call is present in all aspects of life.