Last we spoke of personal vocation (two weekends ago) we noted that it was God’s unique call to us, our true name. This name which is indicative of an utterly unique relationship we each have to God is both the source of our true identity and a focal point for prayer. However, it also serves as the foundation of integration, meaning, and discernment in our lives.
To understand the integrating effect of living our personal vocation, we only need to pause and reflect on the variety of duties, tasks, work, and relationships that we have. Quickly, many of us will begin to recognize that the manifold aspects of our lives can leave us feeling harried and disjointed. The various elements of our lives may seem both demanding and unrelated. However, in the context of a personal vocation, those seemingly unrelated and disparate elements of our lives become unified. If, for example, I were to discern that my personal vocation was a call to manifest the goodness of God, the goodness of God would be the theme and focus I would bring to all of my activities, relationships, and obligations. Far from being unrelated, they would all be united as opportunities for expressing and growing in my unique call from God to manifest His goodness. With my friends, at work, in my hobbies, or while taking out the trash, I would always be seeking to experience and manifest the goodness of God more fully.
The personal vocation is also a source of meaning. Many pass through life aimlessly, without a sense of purpose. This sense of lacking purpose can leave one listless and depressed. This, in turn, can even lead to negative physical symptoms. Various studies over the years have validated what common sense indicates: a deep sense of purpose becomes a vivifying force in one’s life both psychologically and physically (and we may also add spiritually). A personal vocation once discerned, becomes that meaning and purpose for us.
Finally, our personal vocation can serve as the foundation for daily discernment. Often when people are talking about a process of discernment, they are suggesting a series of steps, reflections, and prayers which are to be applied to large, life-changing decisions. These types of decisions both require and permit significant time before one must commit. No one needs to decide, within 24 hours, whether or not to get married, enter religious life, or become a priest. Therefore, formal and lengthy processes of discernment can work well.
However, in the daily decisions of life, a formal, lengthy process is impracticable. One cannot take days to decide whether or not to go to the gym or grocery store, whether one should accept an invitation to a party or decline it, whether one should mow the lawn or spend time playing games with the kids. However, an awareness of our personal vocation gives us a simple and quick way in which some discernment can be brought to these smaller, daily decisions. We simply need to ask ourselves, of the opportunities before us, which most clearly fosters and manifests God’s unique call in our lives. The answer to that question is likely to indicate the more perfect plan of God for us in that moment. By means of discernment through our personal vocation, we invite God to be present and guide us in every aspect of our lives.
Praised be His name! Now and forever!