Where Is the Love of Christ Calling You?
"For the love of Christ impels us."—2 Corinthians 5:14
When I talk with men who are discerning religious vocations, they often tell me that the seeds of these vocations were planted by the example they saw in priests or brothers in their parishes or schools. Even though a man might not be able to express his call fully, he may tell me "I feel like something inside me is drawing me to religious life." Most often the discerner says "I want to serve God, the Church and God's people" or "I feel like I am called to be a missioner." Another common comment by a man discerning his religious vocation is "I don't feel like I am supposed to be married or have a family."
Recognizing this feeling of being called is the initial part of the discernment process and an important step in understanding one's vocation. As a person continues to discern—that is, reflect on where God is calling him and attempt to follow that call—he must take it to prayer. Even if he doesn't know how he is supposed to pray, he can still recognize the inner desire to pray. He may get distracted, he may be busy, he may not have all the time he would like to dedicate himself to prayer, he may not be certain what type of prayer is best. But does he have that desire to pray? St. Augustine said, "Our hearts are created for God, and they are restless until they rest in God." I believe that the desire to pray leads a person to prayer and to a place where he hopefully is ready to listen to God.
A person's prayer—whether it is the rosary, meditation, Scripture reading or many other forms—draws him closer to God and helps him confirm that he is indeed called. Finding that peace, loving presence of God, gratitude, courage or awareness in his prayer can help him clarify where he is being called. That desire within him which led him to prayer is love. Recognizing God's love for him and recognizing that love of God within him is what guides him as he follows that call.
St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Corinthians, "For the love of Christ impels us." It is that love which is at the heart of all our calls. It is that love which is the origin of religious vocations. And our love of Christ is what motivates us to want to be like him and impels us to go out to all the world and share that love.
A person's prayer does not end once he finds his vocation but continues throughout his lifetime. His call to the religious life continues to evolve, and his love for and relationship with Christ continues to deepen.
If you are feeling called to discern religious life, offer it up in prayer. Let us know, and we can begin to pray for you as well. If you attend a Come & See event or visit the missions, we invite you to join with our Glenmary priests and brothers in prayer.
If you think this may be the time for you to take the next step of visiting the missions, contact our office about weekends you are possibly available to visit.
"When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you."—Matthew 6:6