What is a Vocation?
Your life has a purpose. Each and every one of us was created by God, who loves and wants us to be happy, sharing in His work of bettering the world. Your vocation is sometimes referred to as your calling. In fact, the word vocation comes from a root word that means ‘to call.’ And it is God who is doing the calling! Your “vocation” is the path that you are intended to walk as you make this world a better place.
But what does God call us to do?
Even if it might be hard for you to believe, you are called to holiness – yes, you! Each of us, by virtue of our baptism, is called to sainthood – to holiness. But what does holiness look like? I think many young people think it looks pretty uninteresting but nothing could be further from the truth! Holiness is the exciting adventure of a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ. It involves risks, courage, faith and determination. Remember Saint Peter being invited by Jesus to step out of his boat and walk on the water? Think of yourself, setting out on your own journey in relationship with Jesus Christ. Would walking on water be boring?
We are all called to holiness. Each of us is called to seek holiness in a way that is ours alone, unique and irreplaceable. God has a purpose and plan for you, personally. That plan will be lived out in one of four vocations.
What is Discernment?
Discernment is the process of discovering one’s Vocation. Every person’s discernment path is as unique as his/her vocation, but the common tools of discernment are prayer, regular reception of the Sacraments, reading, reflection and discussion.
How do we know which vocation is right for us?
This is the process of discernment, and it happens during a once-in-a-lifetime period when we are seeking, haven’t yet chosen our path, but know it is out there to be found! Sometimes I have compared discernment to choosing which player you are going to be in your favourite video game. I know it sounds odd, but hear me out! In the game, you know what your goal is, and everyone who plays has the same goal. Well, that’s a little like our journey through life – our goal is to live well and to make it to Heaven, and everyone who lives has the same goal.
We can live as a committed single person, a married man or woman, as a priest or a consecrated religious – these are the ‘characters’ we have to choose between. So how do we choose? And not as a skin in Fortnite – I mean in real life! There are many things we can do to help us decide, but my first suggestion is always, prayer! God is the one who made you and He is the one who knows which ‘character’ you are meant to be… so ask Him! My second suggestion is to spend some time journeying deep within yourself – finding your talents, interests, desires and fears. These will provide helpful insights as you work to discover the unique adventure that God is calling you to. Head out on the journey of discernment and find out which character you are going to use to complete your mission!!
How can I discern my Vocation?
There are several things we can do to dispose ourselves to hear God’s still, small voice. A regular life of prayer is absolutely necessary, especially prayer with Scripture. Those discerning their vocation should spend special time with the words of the four Gospels.
It is impossible to discover your vocation without good information. Don’t try to discern your vocation alone, without the help of the Church. God has put good people in your life to assist you in this important quest! Talk to your parents, your close friends, your parish priest and your Vocations Director. Find someone who is already living out the vocation you are considering and ask them what it is like, and don’t be afraid! Research what it means to be a Christian husband or wife. Read books on what the religious life is all about. Talk to people about what the committed single life means and what the priesthood is really like.
Receive the Sacraments regularly, especially Holy Communion and Confession. Sin is like static interrupting the phone call between you and God. He is calling you to do something, but you can’t quite hear. Confession obliterates that static – that sin – and enables you to hear God’s voice loud and clear! Regular Holy Communion is an indispensable habit for those discerning their vocation. It is simply impossible for us to understand the strength, grace and insight available to us in receiving the Eucharist, even daily!
Go on a retreat. A retreat is time spent away from the regular routine of your life – time dedicated to prayer and silence. Retreats, especially High School retreats, are often loaded with a lot of fun as well! We offer many retreat opportunities through the Vocations Office of the Diocese of Peterborough, so feel free to come to one!
Young men in the Peterborough area are invited to join us at our monthly Quo Vadis discernment group meetings, where we have an opportunity to talk in more depth about the process of discernment.
What is a Retreat?
When an army engaged in battle needs time to regroup and strategize, they retreat for a time before re-engaging in a more effective way. That is exactly what we do personally when we make a retreat. It is important to occasionally spend a day or a few days away from the ordinary cares and duties of our lives in order to think and pray about where life is taking us, how our relationships with God and with others are developing and what our lives are all about. A retreat is a very healthy exercise and making one is highly recommended, especially for those discerning their vocations!
What does a nun, a monk or a priest do all day?
Who can I speak to for more information?
Father Stephen DeCarlo, Associate Director of Vocations for the Diocese of Peterborough, is happy to speak to anyone about discerning their vocation at any time! Don’t hesitate to call or email him!