My hand were folded in prayer. My knees ached from kneeling. This was my daily ritual after noon Mass. I was once again praying for God’s will to discover my vocation. Then it happened. I felt an interior voice begin to rise up within me. A voice that boomed, “Scott, stop praying and start doing!” The words reverberated throughout my body. In that moment my prayer quickly changed to, “Lord, give me the strength to do, instead of just pray.”
One cannot simply discover their vocation by praying; one must do. We are called to try. That is what God ask of us. We are called to try on our various vocational options of religious life, diocesan priesthood/deaconate, married or single life.
We cannot discern whether we should do something, but only whether we should try to do it. For instance, you cannot discern to marry Susan unless you begin to date her. You cannot begin to discern religious life unless you experience the Order’s fraternal, prayer and ministerial life. These observations also make it clear that some vocational paths require the consent of more than one person. Therefore, we have to be prepared to receive the answer no. In the other’s no we come to know God’s will in that particular circumstance. The no is not a sign of failure, but a sign of a successful discernment.
In religious life, you are discerning if you should try to enter our postulancy program. The word postulancy comes from the Latin, postulare, which means, “to ask.” An aspirant asks to enter our year-long program of preparation (postulancy) for formal acceptance into the Franciscan Order. During postulancy, you are provided with an experience of fraternity, prayer, and ministry with the friars. In addition, you are given the resources to help you develop the psychological and emotional qualities necessary for religious life and ministry. Postulancy is the equivalent of dating Susan to discover if you wish to both marry each other.
The surest path to happiness is to discover what God is inviting you to do. By living out your personal vocation, you will do the most good, and in so doing will find fulfillment both here and hereafter. Moreover, God does not want us to simply settle for the easiest path, but challenges us to choose the greatest good for our lives.
A concept shared in the story of the rich young man who approached Jesus and asked Him what he should do to gain everlasting life. Recall, the rich young man was not choosing between good or evil within the story. We were told that he kept all the commandments. In the story, Jesus told him what to do if he wished to be perfect and to live the greater good. The scripture (Mt 19:16-22) makes clear to the rich young man and ourselves: We are not called to simply avoid evil and do good, but to do the greatest good. Therefore, I ask you, “What is your greatest good?” What is God calling you to do with your life? The only way to find out is to try.
May God bless you and keep you on this journey of faith called life.
Peace and all Good,
Bro. Scott Slattum, OFM
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According to the National Religious Vocation Conference direct experience with their religious community and its members, through “Come and See” experiences, discernment retreats, and other opportunities to spend time with members are important in helping discerners discern religious life. How do you plan to try on religious life – to do instead of just pray about your vocation?