These days we seem to have a never-ending series of choices to make, ranging from the simple to the profound. What kind of coffee should I have? What should I study? Where should I work? It is easy to become overwhelmed. Inevitably, we are also faced with the deeper questions that relate to who we are and who we are called to be. What will bring us the greatest joy in life? Where will I find the greatest fulfilment? It is not surprising that our Church emphasises the importance of taking time to think, pray, and reflect about where God is inviting you.

 Every one of us has a vocation, in that we are all called by God to love Him and to love others as much as we love ourselves. Some of us are called to marriage, some are called to single life, and others are called to priesthood and religious life. In the Gospel, we are told that Jesus came so that we “may have life and have it to the full” (Jn 10:10). God has given life to each one of us, and it is in fulfilling His will that we achieve the joy, peace, and happiness that only He can offer. Discovering a vocation is one of our great realisations – in this way, we discover our true purpose, with a deep awareness of how God has set each of us on our own personal path. Life is God’s gift to you and what you do with your life is your gift back to God.

It is interesting that many people who responded to God’s call over the history of the Church were less than perfect. Many of our saints came from difficult, sometimes dubious backgrounds. They were not seen as anything special and were certainly not seen as holy. However, what made them different was their capacity to listen to the call of God and to respond with an open heart. Being a priest or religious brother does not mean that we are so heavenly focussed that we are no earthly good. Instead, as Pope Francis says, “We need shepherds, with the smell of your sheep. Make it real, as shepherds among your flock, fishers of men and women.” We are all human, and we might not always get everything right. Holiness, however, is about doing the best that we can, finding strength and support in our faith, and always endeavouring to live in God’s mercy in all that we say and do.

So how can we come to understand our vocation? It is a journey of discovery and discernment. The word discern, is its original sense, means to separate out, to let go what is worthless and hold on to what is true and good. It is about making space to really listen to that still, small voice of God in your life. There are things you can do that help. Taking time out for reflection and prayer daily is essential. Share your hopes and anxieties with the Lord, as prayer will help to lead you to valuable insights and give you a deeper sense of strength and support in your faith. The Mass is where we break open the Word of God and the Bread of life and is a perfect place to reflect on your vocation. Getting involved in the life of the parish is also important, such as outreach to the marginalised, bringing Holy Communion to the sick, or being involved in day to day life of your Church. Finally, it is good to be accompanied by someone in your discernment. As Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, our vocations directors would be happy to hear from you. They can answer many of your questions, provide guidance, and signpost experiences that will help you take the next step. You can find out more about us and get in touch with our vocations directors contacting us.