Vocation a matter of election, not discernment


#1

That is, anyway, what a Jesuit priest told me, and it makes sense. Consider that (1) there is a universal call to live the evangelical counsels; (2) St Paul advises us not to marry; (3) those ‘discerning’ are almost never provided certainty of their vocations, but are instead given graces to advance in the spiritual life.

So the choice to enter the religious life is just that – a choice we can elect to make, offered to us in the same way Christ offered the rich man the objectively higher road to perfection (by selling all of his things and following Christ).

If I understand a vocation in this way, it removes all of the futile and confusing search for signs. Does this seem like a reasonable way to think of vocations?


#2

Yes!

Grace builds upon grace.


#3

The word vocation comes from the latin "vocare" -- to call. I believe God calls us through many interior inspirations that attract us to the form of vocation that He desires for us. When we pray for understanding of our role in the paschal mystery and strive to find God's will for us, the call becomes clearer and we eventuallly find our unique place within the Body of Christ. :)


#4

[quote="Alterum, post:1, topic:300668"]
So the choice to enter the religious life is just that -- a choice we can elect to make, offered to us in the same way Christ offered the rich man the objectively higher road to perfection (by selling all of his things and following Christ).

If I understand a vocation in this way, it removes all of the futile and confusing search for signs. Does this seem like a reasonable way to think of vocations?

[/quote]

With all due respect... no. ;)

On another thread, I took a young forum participant to task for his statements that, through discussion(s) with a nun, he realized that he was called to the priesthood. I asserted that one cannot unilaterally discern that he has a vocation to the priesthood (I might argue a similar argument with respect to the religious life).

Instead, a vocation -- whether to the married, single, or religious life -- is both a matter of a unilateral willingness (a personal 'election', if you will) to consider that one is being called, and a discernment that one takes on with the 'other'. In the case of married life, the 'other' is the potential spouse; in the case of religious life, it's the order (or in diocesan ministry, it's the bishop (represented by the vocations director and/or rector)). (The consideration of single life as a vocation is more difficult to frame up in these terms, but I would assert that one makes this discernment along with the Church.)

So, in short: no, it's not a unilateral "election". After all, if I walked up to you and informed you that I elected myself your spouse, you'd quite reasonably conclude that I was a few marbles short. In other words, it's always a discernment, and one that must take place alongside the appropriate "other".

(Now, you can reasonably argue that before you undertake discernment, you must first 'elect' to be receptive to the possibility of a call, but that's a whole 'nother assertion, isn't it?)

Blessings,

G.

p.s., don't worry about 'signs'. Some professed religious, and some priests, tell compelling stories about receiving 'signs'. Most will tell you that they received no sort of thing. Looking for a 'sign' as a type of proof of a call is futile, and -- at the very worst -- is an example of putting God to the test or attempting to hold God hostage ("if you mean that You're calling me, then you better give me a sign, God!") ;)


#5

Just a guess, but you said a Jesuit said this to you.

For a Jesuit, the term "election," may have a very different meaning than it does for the rest of us, because a Jesuit, by definition, will be formed in the spirituality of St. ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. Hs spiritual exercises, which are most often done in a 30 day silent retreat, conclude with an election regarding some major decision, often a vocation. However, as Ignatius well understood, it is an election at the end of a long process of discernment. The 30 days of exercises (discernment) lead to the election.


#6

[quote="Alterum, post:1, topic:300668"]
That is, anyway, what a Jesuit priest told me, and it makes sense. Consider that (1) there is a universal call to live the evangelical counsels; (2) St Paul advises us not to marry; (3) those 'discerning' are almost never provided certainty of their vocations, but are instead given graces to advance in the spiritual life.

[/quote]

I am probably interpreting this incorrectly, so please correct me if I am wrong. I interpreted your conclusion from these three things (especially number 2) to be that everyone is actually called to enter religious life, but most choose not to.

This can't be true, of course. If that was true, and we all followed our "true" vocations to religious life, there would be no more humans in 60 years, or whatever, unless we changed the way of living for religious life.

Wow, this sounds silly. :D I hope I'm not missing anything obvious. :p


#7

[quote="bobballen_18, post:6, topic:300668"]
I am probably interpreting this incorrectly, so please correct me if I am wrong. I interpreted your conclusion from these three things (especially number 2) to be that everyone is actually called to enter religious life, but most choose not to.

This can't be true, of course. If that was true, and we all followed our "true" vocations to religious life, there would be no more humans in 60 years, or whatever, unless we changed the way of living for religious life.

Wow, this sounds silly. :D I hope I'm not missing anything obvious. :p

[/quote]

I don't see why that consequence implies that it's untrue :-P If I recall, Augustine says that we should all remain virgins, even though there would be no reproduction, since it would hasten the Second Coming -- or something like that.


#8

[quote="Gorgias, post:4, topic:300668"]
With all due respect... no. ;)

[/quote]

Heh, thanks, I think you've provided a better and more comprehensive explanation of vocations.


#9

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