Last night, I met again with about 30 young adults for Adoration, discussion, and social time. I am so encouraged by this group of young men and women who are giving priority to their faith. Thanks to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parish for hosting our gathering last night.
As always, we began with time of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Just about everyone today can use more quiet time, and silence before the Lord in prayer is a good way to place everything in his hands, and rediscover the peace of heart which only he can give. Personally, yesterday was a somewhat ‘disjointed day’ and it was comforting to rest in the Lord as the day drew to a close.
Our topic for discussion last night was discernment and vocation. The combination of Adoration with a discussion on discernment an vocation is providential. Discernment is about ‘listening’ to the call of Jesus. The Christian life is centered in a relationship with Christ, and the ‘encounter’ with Jesus is life-changing. Vocation is about a ‘call;’ the call of Jesus: “Come follow me.”
I shared with the group my own story, and how in hind sight I am aware of how the Lord was always leading me. One thing that struck a chord with the group was my own interior feelings of frustration during the year’s I was searching to know God’s will. Even though I had some great opportunities in my young life, and enjoyed so many different things, there was always an interior sense of ‘restlessness’ which would not let me settle down.
It is important for young people who are searching for God’s will to know that, even as you search, you are doing God’s will. As long as someone is praying, receiving the sacraments, striving to grow in holiness, and in some manner or other ‘making a gift of self’ in some way, God is present; the Lord is leading.
To be clear, discernment is about being in relationship with Jesus; listening to his voice and growing more and more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. The words of St. Ignatius of Antioch (whose feast we celebrate today) speak clearly about the interior longing of discernment: “I seek him who died for us; I long for him who rose for our sake.”
Discernment involves prayer – certainly. But it also involves paying attention to what is going on in every aspect of life. St. Ignatius of Loyola was insistent that discernment involved the whole of one’s experience. That is why telling one’s vocation story (as I did last night) is important, as it helps to shed light upon how I became aware of God’s presence and action in my experience.
For instance, I’m convinced that as many ‘doors’ as God opened in my young life, some of the more important actions of his grace were the ‘doors’ he closed! which kept me moving in the direction of his will. This was necessary to allow me time to let go of ‘my will’ and embrace ‘his.’ Note: what I wanted was not a bad thing – but what was and is most important is bringing one’s life into connection and harmony with God’s desire – with God’s will.
Another important point is this: a common element to every Christian vocation is generosity of self. Our common vocation is to grow in holiness – which is to become more like Christ. The entire life of Christ entailed his ‘self-donation’ in obedience to the Father’s will, in expressing his love for us. This is the heart of every Christian vocation – self-gift. Thus, for everyone who is serious about discerning God’s will, there must be an effort to live life for others. There is a necessity to be involved in various forms of service, whether that is in regards to one’s family or friends, to one’s parish, or in the broader community.
The truest experience of human fulfillment is found in love – in moving the focus away from self towards the needs of another.
Many thanks to Matthew Beck for organizing these gatherings. Our next gathering is December 4, 7:00pm at Holy Family Cathedral. Please come join us!