Assuming first of all that we have an active prayer life and we actually take the time to silence ourselves long enough to hear God’s call. Once we discern what it is that God is calling us to, shouldn’t making it a reality come easy? Naturally, if I am actively seeking to align my will with God’s shouldn’t I be filled with every grace and blessing?
In my experience, God calls us, but we always have a choice as to how we respond. Our “yes” is not a onetime event. We are constantly being asked to give our “yes” again and again. God allows temptations or difficulties in our vocation to give us the opportunity to truly choose it.
It is easier to write about the challenges, difficulties and rewards of living out my vocation as a Catholic woman, wife and mother. However, I am certain that every vocation, husband, father, priest or consecrated person face similar opportunities to give their “yes” more than once.
It is my belief that a young person who after sensing the call to consecrated life, and giving their first “yes” to God, will face times of trial and temptation. Next time you have the opportunity ask a priest to share his vocation story, certainly you will discover the challenges he faced along the way. God allows these difficulties to ensure that their willingness to respond generously to his call is not just out of obedience. Their response is one that is made out of love.
The same can be said for husbands and wives. In scripture we find the greatest advice for all vocations. Ephesians 5:23 -33 calls husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. How did Christ love the Church? He laid down his life for the Church. There aren’t many situations today where a husband will have to physically die in place of his wife. Figuratively, a husband is called to die to himself, to place the needs and well-being of his wife and family ahead of his own. He is called to choose out of love to place his own desires last.
A wife is called to respect and to serve her husband, even when her husband is not being loveable or respectable. It is fairly easy to serve those in need, or those who are pleasing and appreciative of our efforts. God shows us the true example of love in that while we were still sinners, he sent his only Son into the world to die in our place so that we might be saved. Jesus died for all of us, even those who reject him, mock him and deny him. What motivates a man to do this? Love. As a wife, being called to love a man who is willing to lay down his life for me, is reason enough for me to love and respect him unconditionally.
When we receive our initial call, Christ usually reveals our path. Not all at once but in his time we see the path we are to take as we respond faithfully and generously. At times, others come and plant weeds and shrubs in the path. The path may become unclear. If we are not mindful, or more importantly, if we are not prayerful, we will lose sight of the path.
God allows these weeds and shrubs to obscure our path to give us the opportunity to actively choose to continue to follow him, to walk the path he has laid out for us. We have to trample the weeds, uproot them, and move shrubs to stay the course. Our “Yes” to follow Christ is not passive, it’s active.
Blessed Mother Theresa is a great example of this vocation to love. Her own life was a testimony of this continual “yes” as she actively pursued the path laid before her in the initial call she received to start-up the Missionaries of Charity. While difficulties and spiritual darkness accompanied her for years, she was never discouraged or doubtful. Motivated by her love for Christ and love for her neighbor she was faithful to the end.
Underlying all vocations is a call to love. Whether, married, single, or consecrated religious we are asked to give ourselves in love. Love always seeks what is best of the other instead of self. This may sound sacrificial, and at times it is a sacrifice. However, it is also where we find true freedom. It is only in living and loving others that we fulfill our basic need to love and be loved. If I live for and love others, and others live for and love me, and so on, then the world over would have this basic need fulfilled. When we ignore God’s call to love, become distracted or consumed with our goals at the cost of those around us, we drain ourselves and others.
God calls us out of love. We have to choose to respond generously, faithfully and in love.