In my work as a Vocation Director, I have faced many and varied questions about “finding one’s vocation”. Some of the questions are how do I know if God calls me to a certain vocation? Is it marriage life or a consecrated life? Is this God’s will? I usually formulate my answers by way of formulating question counter questions. What do you want to do? What is your desire? What do you perceive as your special talents and gifts? What do you think is life-giving for you?
Pope Francis in his address to the Synod of Bishop that discussed the topic of Young People, their Faith formation and Vocational Discernment, had this to say: “Vocation discernment is not accomplished in a single act”. Rather, it is a process of praying, meditating, pondering and reflecting on God’s signs in one’s life. Each of us is a unique human being with our talents and gifts. Our God freely gives our talents and gifts and it is our call to bring them all to the table of fellowship; to share those blessings for the common good of humanity.
Mary, our Mother, is a model of someone who took courage to embrace her true vocation by saying ‘YES’ to God’s call. She dared to risk her life with that act of faith. By following her inner intuition and surrendering to God by her act of consent, she changed the world. She invited God to live in her, through her and with her. My reflection question to my discerners is a big challenge: are we daring enough to do the same as Mary has done?
The young people in today’s world, as Pope Francis wrote in the Synod paper and as we also know, “live in a world, which is different from that of their parents and educators”. However, reflecting back on my experience working with young people in discerning their vocation, there is something that has never changed; from the Millennials, the Baby Boomers to the Generation X, the young people now as those before them are still longing, searching, and seeking to find meaning in their lives and ultimately to find God. This is our human nature. It is my responsibility to provide them with the opportunity to integrate who they are, recognizing their gifts, their talents and their brokenness, to encourage them and guide them to become the best they can be, and finding their vocation in life. It is my task to meet them wherever they are at this stage of their life.
Fear of facing the unknown is one of the struggles that my discerners have to tackle in the decision making process. ‘Be not afraid’ does not mean that we do not have our fears. It means that we do not have to let that fear guide us and possess us. Instead, we need to recognize and embrace our fears with faith, hope and love.
“The deeper our faith, the more doubt we must endure; the deeper our hope, the more prone we are to despair; the deeper our love, the more pain its loss will bring. If we refuse to hold them in the hopes of living without doubt, despair, and pain, we also find ourselves living without faith, hope, and love.” (Parker J. Palmer)
Author: Sr. Aprilia Untarto, SSpS is a religious missionary sister and a Vocation Director of the Holy Spirit Missionary Sisters.