Vocation opens doors to becoming a fully realized person. It is also a meeting point between God and humanity.
Vocation challenges us from the first moment we think of it: be it the very concept of vocation, or all the dynamics proper to the vocation. On the one hand, vocation is a call from God; on the other hand, the vocation implies the very person who is called.
The concept of “vocation” refers to the intimate relationship that flows from the encounter of God with the fullness of the human being’s authenticity. For its part, vocation takes place as a “path”; a path that is not always clear and that, being personal, can never be taken individualistically.
When we look at the reality of our vocation and face the challenges of discernment and vocational journey, we are driven by an unbridled desire for everything: a life of dedication and giving to others; a life dedicated to prayer; a certain profession; family; and the accomplishment of great things.
The plurality of paths can become noise that blocks discernment and we unconsciously end up being deaf to ourselves, to God, and to all those who could help us in this journey. Often reconcilable paths seem impossible to follow since everything is played out between having to choose only one thing or not being able to choose anything.
Vocation opens doors to full human fulfilment and becomes a meeting point between God and humanity. Thus, the dimension of the common good is always present, whatever the vocation. If we think of chapter 12 of the First Letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul makes it evident through the analogy of the body, that though we all have different functions, we all have something specific that allows us to contribute to the health of the entire body.
In the same sense, Pope Francis recalls that “within society, there is an innumerable variety of associations that intervene for the common good, defending the natural and urban environment.” (Laudato Si’, n. 232) We do not have to despair at the idea of wanting to be everything as if that were our vocation!
On the contrary, it is necessary to banish all traces of despair to let flourish what we are and what we genuinely want to be. By allowing ourselves to be part of the whole, we are not only able to reach our full realization, but also contribute to a greater humanization of the world in which we live and of which we are a part of.
Often, the difficulties we face in vocational discernment are exaggerated, like making mountains out of molehills. When making discernment together, we are freeing ourselves from ghosts that obscure our present and future realities.
In God, we don’t need to work on several fronts: trying to be happy; seeking to live a life of holiness; seeking the fullness of who we are; etc. All of this is part of the same path: the path of our vocation. God does not call us to schizophrenia! Rather, to discern and live the vocation is to respond affirmatively to the deeper truths of who we are and what we yearn to be!
As the pope reminds us, “When someone recognizes the vocation of God […], he must remember that this is part of his spirituality, it is an exercise of charity and, in this way, he matures and sanctifies himself.” (Laudato Si’, n. 231) The “yes” to a vocation is unique but has countless consequences.
Our fears put us in situations contrary to what we are and blind us to the breadth of the vocation. We are not condemned to live a certain vocation. Rather, we are blessed with a vocation – a blessing that is given and just waits to be discovered and lived.
Of course, there would be difficulties. The challenges can be great and the circumstances can even be averse to the vocation, but we are not alone in this path. God always provides the solutions and tools we need to move forward. If we do our part, will God stop doing his? Of course not! So, do not despair! On the contrary, vocation is always a horizon of hope!
Fear never generates life! To dare to live truly is to dare to overcome fear. Overcoming fear should be done carefully and at our own pace. This alerts us to the fact that vocation is always possible because fear can always be overcome by our will, by our faith and action of God, and those who help us in our vocational journey.
“Living the vocation … is not optional or a secondary aspect of the Christian experience, but an essential part of a virtuous existence.” (Laudato Si ’, n. 219) Closing the doors to life is not an option! Life is full of opportunities and possibilities. Our obstacles, blocks, fears, and difficulties to see further than the circumstances that surround us do not derive from vocational impossibility, but from the impossibility of living out our vocations individually, not including God and the people who help us.
For example, today, the pandemic seems to have made life difficult for many people, and, at different levels, we have been suffering the consequences both of the disease and of the measures that we must take to prevent its spread. We could say that this is not a favourable time for anything, but … is it so?
In these troubled times, many are the ones who give their lives for others. Certainly, there is still much to do, but we cannot turn a blind eye to the kindness that radiates through the social despair in which we live. What does this have to do with the vocation we want to discern? Everything! This time is not “emptiness,” nor an interval in our life. This is the “present moment” and, therefore, it is the favourable time to discover those who, despite all the restrictions we are experiencing, accompany and help us to see beyond our limited perspective. (Susana Vilas Boas)