How Is God Calling Me?
To be created is to be called by God, which means God is calling everyone. The mystery of vocation or call is part of God’s love for me. I remember learning as a small child in religion class that God loves me and keeps creating me day by day. So I am convinced that God’s creating me is both a gift and a call. I respond to God’s love and God’s call by becoming more visibly the image of God that I am. So this page is not only for those who are considering religious life or ordained ministry, but also for parents, grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles—indeed everyone in the Church who is seeking God’s ongoing call or who is nurturing God’s call in others.
How do we know we are following our call to holiness? It will manifest itself when we become like Jesus: compassionate, forgiving, loving and healing toward others. If I think about the people in my life whom I would readily call holy, I would think of neighbors who reached out to those in need when it was not convenient or those who were concerned about suffering people in poor countries. Or I might associate holiness with courage in adversity, a courage that comes from faith. Holiness is manifested in selfless love, forgiveness and service.
Everyone has a Vocation
We may think we know each other well, but our knowledge of each other only goes so far. In our depths each and every one of us is in touch with the mystery of God. At the core of each person is a call, or vocation. It is a call to holiness, to becoming a living response to God’s love. Call is common to everyone, yet responding to God’s love is meant to be unique and particular for me. Knowing myself and being honest about my dreams and capabilities are the first steps in discovering how I am called to live out my vocation to holiness. Discovering the mystery of God’s calling for me is not like solving the mystery laid out in a novel or TV series. God is not cleverly trying to trick me into suspecting the wrong choice is the right one. As a matter of fact, God is so gracious that as I choose any direction, there are before me a multitude of paths toward my goal of union with God.
As I try to discover whether God is calling me to holiness through marriage or single life, as a priest, deacon or member of a religious community, it is important to remember that my call is not a narrow plan that God is hiding from me. Being relaxed and trusting that God loves me and always gives what I need for my salvation will help me discern my call in a healthy way.
Ministry is not for a chosen few but is mandated by our Baptism. And every ministry, married or celibate, involves service. The service required of me may be a specifically Church-related ministry such as religious education or pastoral care of the sick. Or it may be service of the poor in a soup kitchen, serving the sick as a doctor or nurse, or caring for children or an aging parent. As a baptized Christian I participate in the life and mission of Jesus by attending to the needs of others.
There is a misconception that one becomes a member of a religious community in order to work in a parish, school, hospital, social service organization or as a missionary. All these ministries can be done by persons who are not members of religious communities.
8 Ways We Can Help Nurture Vocations
Vatican II taught us that, through our Baptism, we all are called to holiness. Each of us must nurture our vocation and others’ vocations. This applies in a special way to encouraging priestly and religious vocations, whether we be parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts or mentors. Here’s how:
- Be faith-filled people. Pray for guidance in decisions, and seek to deepen your relationship with God. Let Christian values guide you.
- Be generous and of service to others.
- Let the children see you pray and pray with them in ordinary and extraordinary circumstances.
- Share faith. Talk with children about how faith affects your life.
- Make and demand sacrifice. Help children see both by example and by what you expect of them that a holy and happy life involves sacrifice
- Stay in touch. Get to know priests and religious by interacting with them as opportunities arise so that you are comfortable with them and understand their commitment
- Teach children you know about the option of a call to religious life or priesthood as well as the call to marriage or single life
- If a child or young adult speaks of a desire to be a priest, deacon, brother or sister, be supportive.
The Vocation to Religious Life
The call to religious life is always marked by a desire to serve God and God’s people, to care for the needy and to bring people to experience God’s love. But, since ministry is a part of every vocation, service is not the distinguishing characteristic of a call to consecrated life as a member of a religious community. The uniqueness of the call to religious life is living the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in community. The essential service of the religious is to witness to all the faithful that each of us is called to treat things, persons and our own self with respect and as ultimately belonging to God.
At the heart of the call to religious life is a desire to give oneself in love to God in a way so total that the pursuit of union with God makes it impossible for anything or anyone to be more central. One becomes unavailable for marriage.
Signs of a Call to Religious Life
Love of God that manifests itself in a desire to give one’s life as a witness to the immensity of God’s love for all people Desire to live simply Ability to relate with a variety of people, to be happy alone or in a group Joy in serving others in any outreach or parish involvement Generosity Ability to listen to others and accept direction when needed Desire to love expansively rather than needing an intimate relationship with one person Desire to grow in union with God through prayer and service of the needy
The Call to Priesthood
Priests are ordained for ministry, which at its heart is a call to lead the members of the Church to holiness by loving and serving the people of a parish or diocesan community. They have a unique call to lead parish communities by bringing them the sacraments and other means to holiness offered through the Church. It is especially through presiding at Eucharist that priests live at the center of the Church and offer members of the Church the most profound gift of God’s grace and presence.
In addition to presiding at sacramental celebrations, priests have the responsibility of proclaiming the gospel in ways that inspire and challenge the members of the Church. If you have a love of Scripture and desire to lead the people of God in celebration of the sacraments, you may be called to the priesthood. Just as Christ’s role was to be a reconciler, bringing the broken back into a renewed relationship to God, so reconciling people to God and one another permeates the ministry of a priest. In order to bring healing and health to the Body of Christ, a priest lives close to the people, knowing their triumphs and failures, the pain and joy of the community. He stands with the members of the community at significant moments—when they are joined in marriage, bury their loved ones, in sickness.
If you feel a Calling of God, you may contact the Rector or the Parish Priest of St. John Bosco Church, Borivali or reach out to the Salesian Vocation Promoter (details mentioned below)