i was with a friend today who is atheist, and i accidentally let slip that I was discerning. She didnt get it at all, and I spent 3 hours trying to explain… How on earth does one explain the point of vocations to an athiest???
Keep it simple, explain this is something that is important to you, and explain why you feel called to vocation...then leave it at that, if the athiest argues her point of view, politely thank her for her opinion and say that you dont wish to argue
Three hours? Yikes.
I usually just explain that religious choose celibacy and dedicate their lives to serving others. Some work in hospitals, homeless shelters, crisis centers, schools, orphanages, etc. They all work to help mend our society. Most people are generally pretty taken back that someone would give up a personal career, marriage, and biological kids for such a simple life.
At the root of it, all religious serve others (as all vocations should, whether vowed religious or not). Try just explaining it as a life of service.
The point of it? To help and love other people.
And in honor of the recent release of Les Mis..."To love another person is to see the face of God".
I like to describe my experience of my own vocation (such as it is) as though it feels like magnetism. No matter what you do, you feel drawn to a particular way of life as though it's the most natural thing in the world. Other things can often get in the way, but you keep on feeling that this is right.