To what is God calling you?

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by Jordan Haddad

Discerning God’s will in our lives can be a difficult and confusing endeavor most of the  time. I can still remember hearing the many epic tales about the heroic Saints in our Church’s life and thinking, “If I really love God, wouldn’t I do the same? Wouldn’t I give up everything, move to a different country, and start a new life devoted only to God?” This is a question that has stayed with me for many, many years, and I am sure that many of us can identify with it. What, then, are we to do?

In the spirit of honesty and transparency, I must first say that this article is not going to reveal God’s particular direction for your life to you. If only! What I do hope to share with you is a way of understanding God’s will that is more comprehensive, graspable, and, hopefully, sanctifying. Here are three key realities that we must all keep in mind when discerning God’s call in our lives.

Our fundamental call begins in baptism.

More important than one’s call to religious life, the priesthood, or holy matrimony is the call to holiness that is specific to and rooted in the Sacrament of Baptism. This is our baptismal call to the “fullness of the Christian life” (as stated by Lumen Gentium #40 of the Second Vatican Council). It is the reality that absorbs, uplifts, and transforms our entire self. Consequently, there is no aspect or part of our life — whether it be chosen or thrusted upon us, a strength or weakness, good or bad, joyful or sad, painful or pleasant — that can fall outside our call to live completely in Jesus Christ.

Through our baptism, we are plunged into the waters of purification and death, and we rise into the newness of a life in Christ. From then on there is nothing “ordinary” about life. Since we have the privilege and honor to be made anew in the Spirit of Christ, every facet of our life is God-touched and bears the weight of eternal significance. With this newness of life, St. Thérèse of Lisieux was able to “eternalize” even the smallest and most commonplace of actions — “I prefer the monotony of obscure sacrifice to all ecstasies. To pick up a pin for love can convert a soul.”

God’s will is for us to love others.

This brings us to the second half of our enlightening excerpt from Lumen Gentium — We have all received, through our baptism, a call to the “fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity” (#40). This “perfection of charity” does not, however, refer to giving the perfect donation to our parish and the poor in our communities. Instead, it is referring principally to the type of love that gives without expecting any recompense.

When questioned which of the commandments is the greatest, Jesus responded with the simplest, yet most difficult, commands of all — love of God and neighbor (cf. Matt 22:37-38). If only Jesus had responded with any of the other 613 commandments, then perhaps we could all breathe a sigh of relief! The call to love is a lofty call, as anyone who has ever tried to love someone deeply knows. The vocation (call) to charity, however, does simplify our ability to understand God’s will in our lives. Therefore, more fundamental and important than discerning and discovering a call to a state in life (priesthood, religious life, marriage) is the call to love (cf. 1 Cor 13).

God encounters us in the present moment.

God’s will for us is not some lofty, abstract path that is either unattainable or forever missed if we commit one misstep along the pilgrimage of life. God, in his utter transcendence and immanence, is present to us at every moment of our lives. This brings us back to the Little Way of St. Thérèse. If St. Thérèse could participate in the salvation of others by picking up a pen in love, then is it far stretch to think that we can do the same by changing diapers, filing tax returns, shuttling children to and from school, cleaning the dishes, or withholding a sarcastic retort in love?

When love is present, God is present. Love infuses all times and places with the grace and presence of God, revealing to us the sacramentality of the present moment. While God has encountered us in the past and certainly will encounter us in the future, He, most importantly, encounters us in the present. Before we can truly discern a calling from God to plant ourselves in a foreign land as a missionary or to simply stay where we are filing tax returns, completing homework, changing diapers and picking up pins, then we must first acknowledge and respond to our baptismal call to the fullness of the Christian life by the simple and mundane path of everyday life and love.

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