Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Vocational Discernment 101

Just last night I was having a conversation about vocations discernment in which I recalled the words of Matt Maher during a concert at Franciscan University ten years ago. He said, "Sometimes people make finding their vocation their god." It becomes this all-encompassing thing to obsess over and spend every waking moment contemplating.

Exhibit A: "An attractive guy/girl sat in front me during Mass today. Maybe I'm called to marriage! Or, maybe it was an invitation from God to give up this good for the greater good of priesthood/religious life."

So, it was rather good timing that The Culture Project reposted an article from July entitled, "Your Vocation is Not About You." Benjamin Mann has some thought-provoking insights into how we view our vocation (whether in the future or the present).
Our expectations are wrong. Consciously or not, we sometimes expect a vocation to solve all of our problems, answer all of our questions, and satisfy all of our desires. But these are not the purposes of a vocation. Discernment, likewise, does not consist in finding the choice that will meet those expectations.

Your vocation will not live up to these unrealistic hopes. Nothing in this world will answer all your questions, solve all your problems, or satisfy all your desires. These are impossible, immature ambitions, and the spiritual life consists largely in realizing that they are impossible and immature.

The purpose of life is the unitive devotional service of God, which includes the love of our neighbor (in whom God dwells). This is the real purpose of any vocation. Some forms of life, such as monasticism, are ordered directly to this end; other states of life are oriented toward it indirectly. But these are only different versions of the one human vocation: to love and serve God, and become one with him in Christ.

A vocation – any vocation – is a school of charity and a means of crucifixion. Your vocation is the means by which your self-serving ego will die in order to be resurrected as the servant and lover of God. This is all that we can expect; but this is everything – the meaning of life, all there really is.

My vocation is where I will learn to let go of my questions, carry the cross of my problems, and be mysteriously fulfilled even when I am not happy. We have some choice as to how we will undergo that process; we do not – so long as we abide in the grace of God – get to choose whether we will undergo it.

Read it all here.

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