Yesterday was the fifth session of the program I am offering at UST Law School during this academic year on Discerning my Place in the World. In our sessions during the fall semester we addressed several aspects of discerning vocation, including getting in touch with our giftedness, identifying what brings us joy, prioritizing our values and reflecting on our deepest desires.
The subject of today’s session was our individual call by God, the reality that each of us is called by God by name and invited to labor with him.
The first thing I always think about in this context is the beautiful line in Isaiah: I have called you by name and you are mine. God calls each of us by name. We are individually called by God, individually invited by God to labor with him in the co-creation of the world.
We capture this reality of our call in the idea of vocation. “Vocation” comes from the Latin word for call or calling (“vocare”). It implies that there is an action from God who is beyond ourselves that is beckoning and calling to us. Although the term used to be reserved for priests, nuns, rabbis, etc., we now understand the idea of a “call” to refer to more than being drawn to some type of ordination. We now more rightly understand the concept of vocation as applying to everyone. After all, why wouldn’t God call everyone in his or her own way to contribute to the buildup of the Kingdom?
We are all called, although in different ways. We are each individually called to take part in a particular way in God’s plan. One way to express that is to remember that our relationship with God is personal, not private. We deepen our relationship with God so that we can hear God’s call, but the call always involves our living for the life of the world. It is always a call beyond ourselves.
I spent some time in my talk (which, sadly I was unable to record, as I realized only as I was about to speak that the battery in the recorder had died) talking about challenges to hearing God’s call and challenges to responding to that call. After the talk, the participants engaged in a meditation adapted from Elizabeth Liebert’s wonderful book The Way of Discernment, a copy of which is attached here.
During my talk I also described the Call of the King meditation of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, which I think is a wonderful meditation for connecting with Jesus’ call to us. I distributed a version to the participants, suggesting they pray with it during the week; you can find another version of that meditation here.