CATHOLIC VALUES COLUMNIST
Peter was a fisherman. John was a faithful Jew. Matthew was a tax collector. Before they met Jesus, the Apostles all had a trade that was their life. Even Jesus was a carpenter for His first 30 years.
I recently went to a talk on vocations. Vocation: such a buzz word on campus. It is such a meaningful word that I don’t really know what it is. At this talk, through the testimonies of the Austrian campus TOR sisters, I grasped better what vocation means.
We each have an individual vocation to experience the fullness of who we are made to be. That vocation may lead us to religious life, married life or single life, but even that in itself is not all-encompassing. My vocation is to live the fullness of God’s plan for who I am to be as a person.
It’s beautiful, really. We are called to this deep joy, each of us in individual ways every day of our lives. God is calling me deeper into this joy on a different path than He is calling you.
Unfortunately, it is really hard to tell what God wants us to do. And it doesn’t help that the world is simultaneously pressuring us to pick a career.
In school growing up, everything was directed toward the next thing, leading ultimately to getting a “good job.” The fifth grade writing test was to prepare us for the eighth grade writing test, which would prepare us for the ACT and SAT in high school that would get us into a good college so we could get a good job.
That’s it. It was all directed at this future job that would sustain us in life. But what for? Sometimes, it felt like getting a good job was the pinnacle of life, but as we know, there is so much more to life than a job.
That is where vocation comes in. This pinnacle of our lives should be our vocation of joy, joy through our Lord. But then we hit that same dilemma of discernment. What is God calling me to do?
The funny thing is, I worry. A lot. About every little thing. So it is strange to me that I am not worried about vocation, this very big thing. Perhaps that is because it is not really mine to worry about. He has already planned for me what I am to do in this life and how I shall serve him.
One of the sisters actually made discovering vocation seem so simple, yet it was so true. She said that we all have a vocational call to holiness, so if we live holiness each day, we will live our way into our vocation.
Since our ultimate vocation is to become fully ourselves, God may take us through many vocations in order to reach that. In fact, I’d be surprised if he didn’t.
As I said, in school, we were always working toward what was next. But when we look at vocation, there is a holiness in the now. God has given me a vocation today that is holy, and He may throw a completely different vocation on me tomorrow. Until then, however, I need to live my vocation of today.
The Apostles were not always Jesus’ disciples. Peter was first a fisherman, and in living out his vocation then, he was following God’s will. Not only that, but it prepared him for the vocation that would be thrown on him suddenly when he became Jesus’ disciple. And that vocation of discipleship prepared him for his vocation of leading the Church as Pope. And in each of these vocations, Peter was growing closer to God and stretching toward the fullness of joy that God desired for him.
The Apostles followed Jesus, each with a unique perspective that lent itself to how they lived out their vocations. For example, Matthew, as a tax collector, knew how to write, so eventually he could write the Gospel for the Lord’s glory. And because he went often to the temple, John was allowed to follow Jesus to the cross and receive Mary as his mother.
Each of these men lived their vocation of the day, and they trusted God when he threw a new vocation at them. Ideally, we should follow their example.
Right now, my vocation is to be a student and to build up my arsenal. I know that when I am prepared, the Lord will reveal to me my next vocation, which will likely be related to my career. In the meantime, I will continue building my arsenal, and I will watch for opportunities that suit what I want to do with my life. If God throws a curve, however, I will be ready because He is preparing me in my vocation today, every step of the way.