A vocation is all about love. A vocation is a life of love in a concrete, particular form because love is always concrete and particular. A vocation begins with His love for you. In that love for you He is calling you to a particular form of life. We call this particular form of life a "state of life in the Church."
This love first involves His total gift of Himself to you and then in response your total gift of yourself to Him. After all He tells us in the Gospel according to St. John, "You did not choose me, but I chose you" (Jn. 15:16). His choice for you is what makes a vocation different from an "occupation" or a "career." You can choose an occupation or a career for yourself but a vocation (from the Latin verb vocare, "to call") is HIS choice for you and which He invites you to accept, embrace and undertake for love of Him. Often we are taught to ask, "What do I want to be when I grow up?" or "What life will I choose?" The better way to think is "What does Jesus want for me?" or "What life will bring Jesus the greatest glory?" Ultimately, we want to say "I want what Jesus wants."
A vocation is the concrete life He has chosen for you and for which He has specifically created you. He is God and therefore knows which life will be the best way to bring about your salvation, your happiness, and His greatest glory. His call will completely fulfill you as a man and a father. A vocation means to be sent by Jesus on mission to help Him bring His salvation to the world and so will call for much love, heroism, and sacrifice on your part. He loves you and has chosen you. His love gives you the ability to love Him in return. The key to discovering your vocation is to allow Jesus to show His tender love to you. This love will make you capable of loving Him in return.
As you can see, it is vital that you find your vocation. Your fulfillment, your happiness, and ultimately your salvation, can depend on your acceptance of the mission that Jesus has chosen for you. Moreover, other people's salvation will depend on you giving your full "yes" to Jesus in your vocation.
Click here to learn more about the basic steps of discerning a vocation to the priesthood. These steps, however, are not steps that are taken and finished. We are always engaging these steps at deeper levels, even after saying "yes" to our vocation. Sometimes, these steps are going on at the same time and there is always more work we can do at each step.
By following these steps, you will be able to go a long way in making progress on discerning and choosing your vocation. The important thing is to keep at it and not give up on any of the steps and to have patience with the process. Keep giving it over to the Lord and it will happen. I also suggest that you begin to pray one "Hail Mary" each day to Our Lady asking her to help you discover and say "yes" to your vocation. It's a small but very powerful prayer.
The Diocese of Salt Lake City Office of Vocations gratefully acknowledges permission to adapt and use the Basic Discernment developed by Rev. John Cihak (Archdiocese of Portland and Founder and Director of Quo Vadis Days) and Rev. Derek Lappe (Archiodese of Seattle and Pastor of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Camas, WA) and the Archdiocese of Arlington Virginia.
For more information on Quo Vadis Days, click here.
One of the most frequently asked questions I receive from men and women interested in the priesthood or religious life is how to discern whether God could be calling them to this vocation.
They often express feelings of unworthiness and hesitancy to answer such a call. I begin by reminding them that none of us is worthy of such a noble calling as (for a priest) celebrating Mass, offering forgiveness for sins, or healing the physically and spiritually sick; or (for a religious brother or sister) of living in religious community, praying for the needs of the church and world, ministering in education, health care, or social needs in the name of Christ Jesus. We all have our failures and shortcomings. But through the Sacrament of Holy Orders or religious vows, God empowers ordinary men and women to do extraordinary things through the power of the Holy Spirit. The only thing we are asked to do is to be generous and open to allow that spirit to work through us.
The vocation to priesthood or religious life does not come in the form of a mystical vision or a booming voice, but in the quiet, gentle impulses in a person's heart that tells each person they will only be happy and satisfied in a life dedicated to the service of the Church. Discernment of this call does not happen overnight. It takes many years for the Church and for an individual to discern whether God is calling him or her to this life. Through prayer, education, seminary, or religious formation and spiritual direction, an individual will come to discover over a number of years whether God is calling him or her to this life.
If you feel that God may be calling you to a life of service to the Church as a religious sister or diocesan priest or brother, please contact the Vocations Office or talk to your pastor or another priest about a vocation to public ministry in the Church.
Reverend Msgr. Colin F. Bircumshaw
Una de las preguntas más frecuentes que recibo de hombres y mujeres interesados(as) en el sacerdocio o la vida religiosa es saber cómo discernir si Dios les está llamando a esta vocación.
Usualmente ellos se sienten indignos y expresan dudas acerca del llamado. Yo empiezo por recordarles que nadie es indigno de recibir la noble llamada como sacerdote para celebrar la Misa, ofrecer el perdón de los pecados y la sanación física o espiritual de los enfermos, o en el caso de un hermano(a) religioso(a), para vivir en comunidad, orar por las necesidades de la Iglesia y del mundo, ser ministros en la educación, la salud o el trabajo social, en nombre de Jesucristo. Todos tenemos nuestras caídas y fallas, pero a través de las Sagradas Ordenes o los Votos Religiosos, Dios nos da la gracia a hombres y mujeres para obrar cosas extraordinarias a través del poder del Espíritu Santo. Lo único que se requiere hacer es el de ser generosos y estar abiertos para que su Espíritu obre a través de nosotros.
La vocación a la vida sacerdotal o religiosa no llega en forma de una visión mística o de una voz resonante, sino a través de los impulsos suaves y silenciosos en el corazón que le dice a cada persona que solamente será feliz y se realizará como tal, si dedica totalmente su vida al servicio de la Iglesia. El discernimiento de esta llamada no sucede de un día a otro. Para la Iglesia y la persona toma varios años a través de la oración, la educación, el seminario, la formación religiosa y la dirección espiritual, el discernir si Dios lo(a) está llamando a su servicio.
Si usted siente que Dios le está llamando a una vida de servicio en la Iglesia, ya sea como sacerdote diocesano, hermano(a) religioso(a), por favor comuníquese con la Oficina de Vocaciones o hablé con su párroco o algún sacerdote acerca de su vocación para el ministerio público en la Iglesia.
Reverend Msgr. Colin F. Bircumshaw