*When we speak of ‘vocation’ in what follows here we are talking more specifically about a vocation to the religious life (in contrast to other Christian vocations.)
Thoughts of vocation usually arise when we have reached a certain degree of basic maturity in living the Christian life. A call very often manifests itself by a desire for, or an attraction to, God and a desire to live more closely with Him, even to the extent of giving up our present way of life and embarking on a new and different way of life. This often may appear strange, foolish, difficult or even impossible by ordinary human standards. It may also mean letting go of our own ideas and plans and allowing God to lead. God loves us more than we can ever imagine, and wherever He leads is where we will be happiest and most fulfilled.We can respond trustfully with our "yes" as Our Lady did. She wants to lead us to wherever God wants us to be.
If we truly want to know God’s plan for our life we need to be open to God. We need to sincerely desire His will for our lives; to give Him a ‘blank cheque’ with no conditions, to lead us where He desires us to be. Prayer is the bedrock on which these two dispositions depend. It is good to work into your day some times of silence in order to listen to the Lord, to talk with Him, to get to know Him more deeply. So we need to keep on growing in our relationship with Jesus and giving time to Him each day whether by going to Mass, reading Scripture, spending time in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, praying the Rosary or a combination of all of these.
I think of the story of Saint Francis of Assisi. In front of the crucifix he heard the voice of Jesus saying to him: “Francis, go, rebuild my house”. The young Francis responded readily and generously to the Lord’s call to rebuild his house. But which house? Slowly but surely, Francis came to realize that it was not a question of repairing a stone building, but about doing his part for the life of the Church. It was a matter of being at the service of the Church, loving her and working to make the countenance of Christ shine ever more brightly in her.
Today too, as always, the Lord needs you, young people, for his Church. My friends, the Lord needs you! Today too, he is calling each of you to follow him in his Church and to be missionaries. The Lord is calling you today! Not the masses, but you, and you, and you, each one of you. Listen to what he is saying to you in your heart.
Let us lift our gaze to Our Lady. Mary helps us to follow Jesus, she gives us the example by her own “yes” to God: “I am the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me as you say” (Lk 1:38). All together, let us join Mary in saying to God: let it be done to me as you say. Amen!
When we succeed in living in God’s time, open to the epiphany underlying every little happening and every commonplace gesture, we are in fact engaging in a truly contemplative exercise and making a declaration of freedom in the face of a world that suffers from a self-centred understanding of time which pushes people towards despair or mindless escapism. The contemplative is a witness to the truth that time is not money but relationship.
Giacomo Bini OFM