Conversion of St. Paul by Caravaggio

Conversion of St. Paul by Caravaggio

The following was found on Adoro’s blog and I feel that I should comment on it.

First of all, I know people that go into “vow mode” when I tell them that I am discerning a vocation. Some of them go into, “You must call the vocations director. You must visit the monastery. You really, really need to go to this retreat.” The barrage of good will never seems to end and yet these people are also severely disappointed, when I tell them I don’t have money to go on retreats or that I need more time. On the one hand, I can understand their disappointment, but I can also see why I need my own time and my own space to discern.

The thing I’ve learned about the discernment process is that it is no automatic. One is not automatically called to become a Franciscan, Dominican, Carmelite, Benedictine, or Redemptorist. We find our vocation over the course of months or even years. Visits, retreats, and other such things are really helpful to allow us to form a decision, but we also need the time to grow and to understand God’s will. In a way, we need time to mature and to discipline ourselves before we go into that kind of life.

It seems to me that many people are gung ho about finding a spiritual director. I see nothing wrong with this. In fact, it can be a great help to people who need it. Personally, I allow myself time to listen to God’s voice speaking to me and to discern with Him. Every day as I pray the Divine Office, I find the psalms speaking to me. I thank for Him for His benefits on certain days and then I thunder at Him for not responding strongly enough to my cry. Yet I also realize that He is speaking to me as well. Discernment is a two way conversation and, sometimes, it can go three or four ways.

Like I said the discernment process is a slow one. I hate to say it, but I am an impulsive person. I like to run around and look at all of the “shiny things” that have bounced in my path. For months, I would consider the Brothers of the Christian Schools and then I would jump into the Franciscans. I’ve realized that I will find what God wants me to find in His time and His time only. It may be several months from now or it could be in a few years. It doesn’t matter to me. I know that I am being called to do something with my life for the glory of God and now I am trying to figure what that thing is.

The funny thing about vocations too is that so many people think that it’s a job. You become a Franciscan and therefore… The thing about vocations is that they are not jobs. A vocation to the religious life is not something that one can walk away from and say, “I quit. I don’t want to do this anymore.” The vows that are professed are permanent. You can’t back away from a promise that you have made to God. That’s why there are so many probationary periods and that is why it takes so long for a man to become a priest or brother.

It’s also not about the ceremonies themselves or even a habit, what really matters at the bottom of it all is our commitment to God and our communities. If we choose to live the religious life, it will demand a hell of a lot out of us. It will demand everything that we put into it and then some. Yet the reward is truly out of this world. There is nothing more beautiful than a religious or priest that is living their vocation. Indeed, it is something that is awe-inspiring and beautiful.

Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!

St. Joseph, pray for us!