A Vocation Beyond Imagining
It is truly amazing where the Lord will lead you when you find the courage to say, “Your will be done.” God’s vision for the good that can be done in and through our lives is well beyond anything that we can imagine for ourselves.
When I took Final Vows, working in the Office of Vocations was not even on my radar as a possibility for what I might be called to do in Holy Cross. For seven years now I have had the privilege of serving as a vocation director speaking with hundreds of people about how to hear and answer God’s call. The people who I have had the privilege to walk with in their discernment, the places that I have had the privilege to visit and the opportunities that have come along have been a blessing beyond anything that I could have arranged.
As happens in religious life, the time has come for me to transition into a new ministry. This summer I am handing the reins of the Office of Vocations over to Fr. Neil Wack, C.S.C., and am heading to take on the role of Director of Campus Ministry at the University of Portland. The adventure in Christ continues.
In addition to the privilege of getting to know so many men seeking to commit their lives to Christ, out of all of the blessings of these past several years, those I will cherish the most are the many insights gained into the nature of God’s call. In working with so many on their desire to hear and answer God’s call it has become clear how much His call comes out of His great love for us.
In the spirit of the many “listicles” appearing out on the web, I thought I would use my last newsletter reflection to share the top five insights I have gained into the nature of God’s call.
The Will of God:
1. Is for our good – We can at times get it into our head that God calls because ours must be a relationship of obedience. He calls, thus making known His will and we are left to follow. The reality is that God’s call comes out of His deep love for us and His desire to draw us into fullness of life. He calls because He knows us and knows what will draw us into the life we long for. He desires what is the greatest good for us, and so He calls that we might be lead to that good.
2. Leads to God – The fullness of life that we long for is life in God. This is the great gift that God wishes to bestow on us: life in the Father through the Son and in the Holy Spirit. The call offered is meant to draw us into this life. It is meant to lead us to holiness. It can sometimes be easy to get stuck in the work of discernment, especially when there are two seemingly good options before us. If you ever start feeling stuck, step back and just put your focus on God. Strive to grow in your relationship with Christ, look for the resources and opportunities to grow in grace. The clearest path to the Father will likely also be your vocation.
3. Comes one step at a time – Rarely will God give us the whole picture. He does not show us what the next forty years will look like. More often than not, we are given one step at a time. That step into the seminary may not lead to the priesthood but it may indeed be the next step He is inviting you to. It can become a bit daunting to have to figure out what that the next step is. Don’t worry about it. Go back to point #2 above; if you are pursuing God, you are headed in the right direction. God can work with your efforts to seek Him to get you to the right place down the road. What is the next step in growing in your relationship with the Lord? Head in that direction.
4. Takes trust – Since we are only given one step at a time and we don’t know where it will all lead, we need to trust that God’s grace is at work and that He is indeed looking out for us. If we are striving to truly open our lives to Him and to follow Him, He will get us where we need to be. It is also important to trust in others. Entrust some of the questions and thoughts on your mind to those who can help. There are those who are great resources around who can help you in your discernment. Share with them what is on your mind so they can help you take that next step.
5. Is at work in more ways than you can imagine – In sharing my vocation story over and over again through the years, I began to notice in hindsight all of the gentle workings of God in my life leading me in this direction. I did not notice at the time in part because I didn’t want to – I wanted my own way. Yet the Lord was patient and persistent, offering a way all along. He is there and at work already in your life. One of the best tools of discernment is a daily recollection on the ways that God has been at work in your life. The more you look back and notice His presence, the more you will be able to look forward to follow His lead.
God is indeed at work in our lives. He wishes to lead us to life in Him. Trust this and trust in God. Follow as He leads, continue to pursue Christ and call on the Holy Spirit to lead you along the way. It is an amazing adventure that the Lord is wishing to draw us into. Place your trust in Him and follow wherever He leads. You will not regret it.
A Prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Most loving Jesus,
see how far your exceeding love has reached!
Of your own flesh and most precious blood,
you have prepared for me a divine table
in order to give yourself wholly to me.
What has impelled such extensions of your love?
Surely, nothing else but your most loving Heart.
Adorable Heart of Jesus, burning fire of divine charity,
receive my heart within your most sacred wound,
to the end that, in this school of love,
I may make a return of love to the God
who has given me such wondrous proofs of love. Amen.
Adapted from the Holy Cross Directory of 1859
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