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Discerning One’s Vocation

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Purpose Driven LifeYou probably have read Rick Warren’s “The Purpose-Driven Life.”  From a Catholic point of view, what he did in and with that book is not new.  The Catholic equivalent of his “Purpose-Driven Life” seminars is called “Vocation Discernment”  which is the process by which one tries to discover, get a hold of and allow oneself to be transformed by God’s call.  The basis of such an exercise comes from the conviction that “I” have been created only for God, and that my life is a project that He shares with me. Just thinking of this give me the goose bumps!  It makes me want to explain with the psalmist of Psalm 8 “Who am I that You should care for me, a mere nothing — grass blown away by the wind?”  And yet from out of the reaches of Eternity, God did “conceive” me, then he created me, and now sustains me.  In His “mind” — if we can call it that way — is my blueprint.  That “blueprint” is what I refer to as my “vocation.”  It is a unique blueprint, similar to my DNA makeup, that is in God’s “mind” — or to use biblical imagery, his “heart.”  The discovery of this blueprint is what I have referred to as “Vocation Discernment.”  This process of discovery is described as “discernment” which comes from a Latin word for “study, analyze” (discere) and is related to other words that connote discipleship, discipline and discussions.  In fact, this “school nuance” of discernment is important.  For one discovers one’s vocation with the help of and encouragement of others.  Ultimately, the matrix within which one discovers one’s vocation is the community of faith — the Church, which is the Body of Christ.  It is through the Church that one gains entry into that special knowledge that St. Paul speaks of, about “the mystery of God’s will.”  The discernment of one’s vocation is precisely that:  the discovery of the the mystery of God’s will FOR ME.

Update: January 15, 2005

Some Passages About Vocation

It seems that the word “vocation” has become for English speaking Catholics, the technical term for the God’s personal invitation to men to life with him through the Douay-Rheims version.  Below are New Testament passages from this translation about “vocation.”

1 Corinthians 1:26  For see your vocation, brethren, that there are not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble.

In this passage, Paul is asking the Corinthians to examine their condition in life when they were called, i.e., when they became Christians.  It would seem from this passage that most of the Corinthians were to be socially classified among those in the lower echelons of society.  God’s call involves the present of a person; but that “present” is also a product of a “past”, not only of choices made, but also of those things that make up that persons social, even genetic, background.

Ephesians 4:1  I therefore, a prisoner in the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy of the vocation in which you are called:

Here, Paul begins to exhort the Christians in Ephesus.  To “walk worthy of the vocation” is a demand made upon the Christian as a consequence of his/her redemption in Christ.  He/she has been bought by the precious blood of the Lord so that he/she can truly become a child of God.  It is not as if one is here being asked to do something extra for the sake of someone.  Here, one is just asked to live the consequence of one’s new status before God.

Philippians 3:14  I press towards the mark, to the prize of the supernal vocation of God in Christ Jesus.

From within the damp walls of a dungeon, his hands weighed down by chains, Paul tells the Philippians to be like him in not becoming satisfied with present achievements.  The Christian life is like climbing up a stiff precipice; one cannot stop climbing until one has reached the top.  Paul hasn’t reached his goal yet, life with God, and so he cannot stop proclaiming the gospel and living according to the Spirit.

2 Thessalonians 1:11  Wherefore also we pray always for you: That our God would make you worthy of his vocation and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness and the work of faith in power:

To “live worthily” according to one’s vocation is a gift of God.  And so Paul prays that the Thessalonians who have been very good Christians may continue to be so before.  To live according to God’s call is a gift from God!  This is an amazing proposition.  To paraphrase St. Augustine, God commands, but He also empowers one to obey the command.  And for this reason if one indeed is able to live one’s vocation, it is ultimately a triumph of God’s grace, not that of human effort.

Hebrews 3:1  Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly vocation consider the apostle and high priest of our confession, Jesus:

Ultimately, the standard of the Christian vocation is Jesus Himself, the true high priest who was himself tempted in every way, but never sinned.  In him, our vocation as Christians find its “validation” –its strengthened confirmation — since it is in Him that we become children of God.

Originally posted 2005-01-15 05:08:23. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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