Editor’s Note: As a part of our mission to help single Catholics deepen their faith and better discern dating and marriage, the CatholicMatch Institute held an essay contest to award scholarships for the National Catholic Singles Conference that will be held in Philadelphia on September 27-29, 2013.
Members had to answer the essay question: Describe how you have discerned that you are called to the vocation of marriage and provide one example of how you joyfully live out your faith until the time when you can fulfill your vocation?
The post below is one of our winning essays. Congratulations to Daniel Grossano from New Jersey! (Click here to see the rest of the winners.)
I have struggled for a long time with my vocation. Ever since my deeper conversion in college I did not feel called to a particular vocation. Now I do feel more called to marriage and there were three points which really influenced my discernment.
The first occurred while I was serving as a FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Student) missionary at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. To give some context, I just finished up serving for the last three years at that campus in May.
During my second year, I was traveling on the D.C. Metro with my teammate Cassandra who was inquiring about the state of my vocational discernment. I told her that I was really unsure, so she encouraged me to at least start by going on a discernment retreat with a religious community. She said that I needed to discern my call to religious life before starting to date so that I would not unintentionally break a young woman’s heart.
So I heeded her suggestion and went on a discernment retreat with the Dominicans of the Province of St. Joseph in Washington, D.C. It was an interesting experience, but I did not receive a personal calling to that life. After that I got the green light to explore dating from my spiritual director and my teammate Cassandra encouraged me to be proactive in pursuing women and not just wait around.
To further the pursuit of my vocation I became more active on CatholicMatch. I started to regularly spend time view profiles on the website and sent some women messages, but did not hear back from anyone. I still was not really convinced about my vocation, but I was trying to explore dating even though I was really nervous.
The second step on my journey occurred when from then end of May until the middle of June 2012 I was blessed to go on a pilgrimage with FOCUS to Ireland. During the trip I especially spent much time with one of the participants named Victoria. For a little while I was discerning whether I was called to be in a relationship with her, but I did not feel that I was connecting with her enough on that level. Then when we were walking together in Dublin, as we were about to participate in some street evangelization, what she told me next was completely unexpected.
She said that I feel uncomfortable in saying this, but I felt like the Lord told me in prayer yesterday that you are going to make a wonderful father someday. It was the first time that someone had made such an unexpected comment about my vocation. It was different than the typical parishioner who sees a young man at daily Mass and assume he will become a priest.
The third was when I went to a former FOCUS’ teammate’s wedding, not long after coming back from Ireland. Besides being an aesthetically beautiful Mass, it was great to see a young Catholic couple whose relationship was totally rooted in Christ. They began their relationship with a novena to St. Joseph to see if it was the Lord’s will that they be together. At the nuptial Mass, the priest delivered an excellent homily where he spoke about the great privilege and responsibility of marriage being an image of God’s faithful love to the world.
I had never heard this before and not long after read the section in the Catechism that mentioned this. This spoke to my heart and engendered in me a greater desire for marriage. I knew that this couple was going to be a great witness in the world of marriage in response I felt an increased holy desire to want to witness to the world as a married person.
While I hope that my marriage and family will be the central mission of my life, in the meantime I hope to live the mission that the Lord has entrusted to me even now. One way that I am joyfully living out my faith is through using my charisms of excitement for learning about our faith and teaching for the benefit of my parish.
I was recently appointed the lecturer and the spiritual adviser, for our local Knights of Columbus council. I served in this capacity while I was a FOCUS missionary at George Washington University. Through this position I will be giving a talk at each meeting about an aspect of the faith, hopefully in order to help the men to enter into a deeper relationship with the Lord and greater knowledge of our wondrous faith.
Secondly, I was asked to be a catechist for the summer faith formation follow-up for the fifth graders as well as a regular catechist for the fourth graders. I hope to not only catechize these children, but do what I can to help evangelize them, help them to meet the person of Jesus Christ and commit to being His disciple. It breaks my heart that so many young people have fallen away from the Catholic faith and I hope that the Lord uses me to help give these children the foundation for life-long and zealous discipleship.
The Catholic faith is such a beautiful and rich treasure that needs to be shared with conviction and joy. I hope that through the witness of seeing a young man on fire for Christ and the Catholic faith as well as the content that is presented will help to foster deeper conversion in the hearts of those that listen to me. This time of relating to and teaching the faith particularly to children will be great preparation, God-willing, for relating to and imparting the faith to my children. Even though I not where I would I like to end up in life, I am thankful that I can serve the Lord in whatever circumstance that I find myself.