Ignoring our vocation is not an option for the Christian. I am speaking of vocation firstly in the broader sense of the calling everyone of us has been given by God Himself; to be holy. Our relationship with God and with the world as His Disciple is the most important thing we do in this life and everything else centers around it. Everything. We can live as married men and women or religious and consecrated men and women. Some men can live as priests – and still not be holy, so as not to fulfill or honour their primary vocation. And they won’t live effectively their secondary or particular and unique vocation very well without honouring the first. Ignoring our call to holiness isn’t going to get us very far, certainly not closer to God and heaven and our faith is neither an ideal or a set of precepts but about an encounter and relationship and we must follow the call that has been made for all time: come to me, follow Me and I am with you and want you with Me; now and in Paradise! That is Jesus’ call to us and for us.
Often I have been asked when I speak about vocations, “what if God wants me to be a priest and I don’t want to or ignore God?” Obviously there are many layers in a question like this, but I always begin by asking those who think this way, to put God first. Be holy and everything else will be taken care of. Striving for holiness and becoming holy means that we have the humility to listen to God in prayer and know that He speaks to the heart and calls us to a life that is for Him and for others. Sacrifice is a part of it, but a particular and unique vocation is going to fit the person. We can and will see that when we are striving for holiness. Even the process of discernment contributes to our ongoing growth in holiness.
First thing’s first: we have to be talking with God. Prayer and spending time with the Lord is important because we are developing and growing in relationship with (Him) the One we love. Serving and giving to others is important because all vocations are a total gift of ourselves for God and for others. There aren’t vocations that are self-serving, self-centered or selfish. We need to continue to get to know Him, which is why we are always focusing on Sacred Scripture and allowing the Church and the Church’s teachings to be an important part of our lives. That is why we allow the Sacraments to draw us ever closer to God. When our lives are centered on these things: we are growing simultaneously as Disciples. As we do this, in time, we begin to ask the question: “Lord, how do you want me to live my life as a Disciple?” and “Lord, what do you want me to do with my life?”
But we don’t put the cart before the horse, so to speak. When we do, we confuse things. We don’t ask whether we should live our lives as priests, husbands, wives, religious sisters or brothers until we are seeking day by day to live a holy life and answer the Lord’s call each day. If we seek to do this, there’s little chance that we ignore the calling God has for each one of us, His invitation or our acceptance of that invitation