Vocations

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you,
a prophet to the nations I appointed you.  “Ah, Lord GOD!” I said,
“I know not how to speak;   I am too young.”
But the LORD answered me, Say not, “I am too young.”
To whomever I send you, you shall go
whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Have no fear before them, because I am with you
to deliver you, says the LORD.
Then the LORD extended his hand and touched my mouth, saying,
See, I place my words in your mouth!
Jeremiah 1:5-8

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In the beautiful 139th Psalm we hear that God made us, giving us our very existence, and knitting us together in our mother’s womb.  God loves us so much and brings us all into creation to know love and serve Him in this life so that together with the angels and saints we might sing his praises forever, enjoying the beauty of His face, in Heaven.  He calls us all to holiness, but each of us in different ways, because as the 139th Psalm says God knows us, who we really are at the core of our being, better than we know ourselves.  We are all a mystery to ourselves, and following God’s plan for us is the way to reveal the mystery of who we are, and who God is.

Our Vocation, or calling from God, is God’s plan for each of us. A vocation is not a job that you can take on or quit, but an identity that we retain even if we forsake the responsibilities that come with it. In general God calls us all to be holy, to become Saints, His sons and daughters, and citizens of Heaven–this is the Universal Call to Holiness.  More specifically God calls us to a specific vocation.  Priesthood, Consecrated Life, Diaconate, Single Life or Marriage.

It is important to remember that God has a very specific plan for each of us that is unable to be categorized.  As St. Paul says there are many gifts, but still one Spirit, one Baptism,  one Faith, and one Lord.  Each of us is called to a very specific role in God’s creation–and all human happiness, including our own, is tied to our playing that role.  It might not seem grand or important, maybe we are called to be a good friend to someone who, in turn because of our influence, will become a great saint and change the whole world.  No one is insignificant in God’s plan, so don’t sell yourself or your vocation short.  God’s plan for you is the key to your happiness and essential to the happiness of the whole world.  So stop and take a moment to ask God what it is He has planned for you.  So often we plan our whole lives without any input from God–just remember, we can’t blame Him for our unhappiness if we never asked His advice!

So how do we listen to God’s call?  How do we hear our vocation? St. Paul gives us the answer: pray always! We are made to be in constant conversation with God, and it’s only because of sin that this conversation is so hard.  Praying always doesn’t mean praying endless “Our Fathers” and “Hail Marys,” although a few of these every now and then can’t hurt.  Rather, we need to make our lives a prayer.  We do this when we realize that life is a gift from God that we should thank him for (prayer of thanksgiving).  We do this when we realize the many ways we sin (prayer for forgiveness).  We do this when we realize that we need God’s help to live a good, happy and holy life (prayer of petition).  And, we do this when we recognize God is always present in our lives through our fellow humans and through all creation, and respond to His presence by giving him praise and worship (prayer of adoration).  These four types of prayer are all possible without ever mouthing an “Our Father”!  Furthermore, we have to believe that He is talking to us so that we can look and listen for His words.

Hearing God’s voice speak actual words to us is possible, but very rare in the history of creation.  Rather, because He loves us and doesn’t want to frighten us into obeying Him, God often speaks to us through situations, people, art, culture, music, our thoughts and imaginations, and through the longing of our hearts.  If we aren’t listening, either because we don’t expect God actually to speak to us or because we are too distracted by the noise of the world and of our lives, then we won’t hear God.  So we have got to close our mouths, open our ears, shut out distraction, and look for God’s Word, if we want to discover the plan He has for us.  It also means that we have to have the courage to follow him if we hear him calling in our life.

St. Patrick’s Prayer For Vocations

Gracious and loving God, realizing your will is the only path to happiness, open the hearts of young people to hear your call
to serve your Church here in the Diocese of Fall River as Priests, Brothers, and Sisters.
Our needs are great and our people thirst for your presence in the Eucharist.
Raise up faithful servants of the Gospel who will spend themselves for your people and their pastoral needs.
Sanctify everyone with a rich faith and married couples with children who desire to serve you.
Bless with courage and perseverance those now serving your Church.
By their example and faith may many more be inspired to serve you and the Catholic Church.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.