One can not simply discover their vocation by praying; one must do. We are called to try. That is ultimately what God ask of us. It's in the trying we discover our personal vocation. And through our experience of loving we can then ask: Am I called to love and be loved as a religious brother or priest? Am I called to love and be loved as a diocesan priest or deacon? Am I called to love and be loved as a father with children? or Am I called to love and be loved as a single man? One does not know the will of God unless one tries on their options.
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 can't begin to discern religious life unless you experience the Order's prayer, fraternal 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. This is not a sign of failure, but a sign of successful discernment!
The surest path to happiness is to discover what God is inviting you to do and to accept that invitation. By living out your personal vocation, you will do the most good, and in so doing will find fulfillment both here and hereafter. God also does not want us to simply settle for the easiest path, but challenges us to choose the greatest good for our lives.
We are reminded of this in the story of the rich young man who approached Jesus and asked what he should do to gain everlasting life. He was not choosing between good or evil. We were told that he kept all the commandments. 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 what reason itself tell us: we are not called simply to avoid evil and do good, but to do the greatest good. What is your greatest good?
Our vocation director and friars are here to help you discover your greatest good. We can arrange opportunities to experience a "Come and See" retreat, join a monthly discernment group, or immerse yourself in one of our outreach ministries to the poor and homeless. In other words, we invite you to try on the life, test the stirring of your heart, respond to the movements of the Holy Spirit to follow Christ in a more radical and greater way.
May God bless you and keep you on this journey of faith called life!
Peace and all Good,
Bro. Scott Slattum, OFM
One way to try on the Franciscan way of life is to volunteer at one of our sponsored ministry like the St. Anthony Foundation in San Francisco, CA. What ministries to the poor are in your area? Consider volunteering with them.
How have you tried on religious life? What are some concrete ways you've tried to experience the friar's prayer, fraternal and ministerial life?
Office of Vocations
2201 Laguna Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93105
Phone: (408) 903-3422