FIVE WAYS TO BECOME CLEARER ABOUT YOUR VOCATION
The greatest vocation is simply to be a Christian, and this is given to us at our baptism. If
we die young, or we don’t discover a more specific Christian vocation, then we should not
feel that we have wasted our life, or that our life is unfinished or unfulfilled. But many
people are called to a more specific vocation as Christians: to marriage; to the
priesthood; to the permanent diaconate; to ‘consecrated life’ as a monk or nun, as a
religious brother or sister, or as a consecrated single person living in the world.
The normal way that God calls us to a particular vocation is through the deepest desires
of our heart. So if we have had a deep and lasting desire to do one thing (e.g. to get
married), and if we have never had a deep or lasting desire to do something else (e.g. to
become a priest or religious brother or sister), then that is a fairly good indication that
something is for us (in this case marriage).
It may be very clear to you which vocation you feel called to. If it is not, then here are
some things you can do to help you become clearer, to help you listen to the Lord more
and let him work in your life more. He will make things clear in his own good time – we
can trust him
1. Give your life to God! Just say to him, ‘I am completely yours, I give you everything;
I will do whatever you ask of me, I let go of all my fears and doubts. Show me your
will, and I will follow it. I am yours’. Say this as a prayer, and really mean it. This is the
only way we find true freedom; and only if we are free can he call us. He will not let
you down; he won’t ask you to do something that is wrong for you, or that you are
unable to fulfil – all he wants is your willingness and openness.
2. Deepen your prayer life: Don’t go mad, as if you can force God to give you an
answer by praying all the time. But deepen your prayer life: have a routine, set aside
some time each day, which includes at least some time each morning and evening. At
the same time, deepen your love for the Mass. Don’t rush it or waste it. Try and go to
weekday Mass at least once a week as well as on Sunday, maybe more often if it is
3. Grow in holiness: Be really honest with yourself about your faults and sins. Be really
determined to live a life of holiness. Often the Lord can’t speak to us, or we can’t hear
him, if we are not living a Christian life. If you are committed to your faith and
discerning seriously, then try to go to confession every month, and stick at it – even if
you feel you have nothing to say.
4. Nourish your spiritual life: There are two main ways we can do this. (i) Find some
good spiritual reading. Have a book that you can dip into every day or two; something
that inspires you about Christian faith or prayer or the lives of the saints. Read a little
bit every day. Just make sure that it is spiritually nourishing for you, and that it is
faithful, Catholic food. (ii) Join a Catholic group. It doesn’t matter if it is a vocations
discernment group, or a parish prayer group, or a bible study group, or a young-adult
socialising group. The main thing is to make sure that you are not living your faith
alone, and that you have other people around to encourage you, and to help you see
that you are not the only person exploring your direction in life.
5. Talk honestly with someone you trust. At some stage you need to talk about your
sense of vocation and not just keep it to yourself. You might not find the ideal ‘guru’,
but just try and think of someone who is wise and has a deep faith. It might be your
parish priest, or another priest you know; it might be a wise layperson in the parish or
somewhere else. You might call them your ‘spiritual director’, but the title is not
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important. It is good to have one-off conversations; but it is also good to have
someone you can talk over time, coming back to things; who can give advice and give
an outside opinion; and can help you see some patterns in your faith and vocation that
emerge over a period of time.
Gradually, you should find yourself becoming more attracted to one vocation, and less
attracted to another. If you are really confused and stuck, and not sure which way to go,
with contradicting signs and signals - then talk to someone, a priest or spiritual director.
Get advice, get an outside opinion; don’t get stuck in a rut. Above all: Don’t be afraid. It is
God who is leading you forward; he has plans for you, whatever they are; you can’t go
wrong if you are trying to do his will and listening and doing all you can. He won’t let you