Editor's Note: In the March issue , Mike-59303
explored the keys to producing more vocations and what their
differences and similarites were. This months' follow-up addresses how
to identify the call.
Many may be dating and still have doubts as to what their vocation
is— be it married life or single life. Or maybe one
is called to the priesthood or religious life. The call is usually not
from heaven” which may occur with some saints. The majority of us are
not fortunate like Saul of Tarsus was, to be struck down on the road,
have his eyes suddenly opened and be known as St. Paul with a mission.
are usually not anointed immediately, like Jesus with a mission, or
called by God like Moses before the burning bush, or presented with a
wife like Isaac was in the Old Testament. It is just not that dramatic.
But knowing that God is directing the way can still be
spectacular, when finding a partner or a religious vocation.
Discernment is a process that each of us should undergo in order to
determine our vocation or position in life. God desires our happiness
first and foremost. This still entails the cross. God is not looking
for our pleasure, but for our interior joy and happiness.
might be the usual signs of a religious vocation? The sign that one
might be called to the religious life is the same as the sign
that one might be called to marriage or even contentment as a single
person. There has to be a longing for that life. One primary desire is
love of prayer, daily attendance of Mass, wishing to be with others in
community and having others enjoy your company.
this sounds like it is also the requirement of marriage. And it is.
Only in a different way! One will be prepared to make a better judgment,
by dating for the purpose of having a family and a yearning to be with
that other person. Peace inside is the key.
In order to
discern the religious life, the only way is to visit religious places
and communities. Be prepared to stay for a couple of weeks. Being
amongst members of a religious organization of sisters, brothers, or
priests is an approach not only to find out more about yourself,
but to see if others think you would be able to live in a
is another factor. One has to have mental, emotional, and physical
health. The religious lifestyle is very strenuous and requires good
health in many ways. One has to be mature in all respects, but not
perfect. A person in poor health will place an unnecessary burden upon
others in the community, especially in this day and age. A person
has to be whole, just like in marriage, in order to fulfill the
responsibility of vocation.
A person being called by
God to the religious vocation should have intelligence and feel good about self, God, and others. Another
factor to be considered is the covenantal relationship. This is most
important. Not only in one’s head should one know about God, but also
in one’s heart. He or she should be committed to Jesus and the Catholic
Church. In other words, one should be living a Christian life before
moving to vocation.
The home life of a person is essential
for setting the background for formation of a person’s personality and
spirituality. Not only family, but school and peers help shape a
person’s character and ability.
So the signs for
vocation are health, intelligence, commitment, conversion of heart, and
home formation. Another factor entering this discernment process is
that one have a sense of humor. Listening to others’ criticisms, as well
as being able to give constructive advice to peers, is necessary. None
of us is perfect. The ability to laugh at oneself and not take things
too seriously is vital.
In any vocation, and in
particular the religious vocation, a religious or priest has to love
the Catholic Church. Someone once said you have as much of the Holy
you have love for the Church. St. Francis of Assisi loved the Church
and did not
go against her, despite abuses and problems in his day and age.
He sought to improve himself first of all, so he could better the
Church. As part of the Church, others looked up to him, Jesus in him
the Catholic Church that he was a member of. He was willing to suffer
for the truth. He wanted to do everything for the Lord. He had found
that pearl that the Bible speaks about in parable. St. Francis began by
looking at himself and striving to be a better person. He did not point
out the faults of others first but tried to improve his own failures.
what about the married vocation? When one is serious about another
person, the best route to go may be courtship. One then concentrates on
being with that particular person more than others of the opposite sex,
doing things together, experiencing new things together, and finding
out how they react and respond back and forth, in the company of other people, before the final decision.
Happiness is a good sign that one may be called to this particular
The desire to have children with the
other person and live in a family in this way would be a sign of one
being called to the married life. The call of God to marriage would
also include maturity in mental, emotional, and physical health. One should be fairly intelligent
and be living a faith-centered single life intent on singlemindedness
of heart. Job security and financial security should be in the making.
The Eucharist and sacramental life should be part of that person’s
life. Hopefully, one has come from a God-filled family where mom and
dad were churchgoers and loved each other. And humor is so important
so that the individual’s personality is flexible to another’s moods and
temperament. The cross is part of the marriage vocation just as it is
with the religious life. It will also be an advantage to pray with that person and go to
church together at times. Remember that Tobit and his future bride
started off with prayer.
So much more could be said
about vocation, but it all starts with living a good single life.
Happiness and peace are key signs to any vocation. When a person knows
where he or she fits in, then commitment is a must!
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