Isaiah 66, 10-14; Psalm 66; Gal 6, 14-18; Luke 10, 1-12, 17-20
Have you ever considered following the Lord consciously and dedicatedly? The Gospel today tells us that Jesus called and sent 36 pairs of disciples and sent them to every town He intended to visit. He said the harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so He sent the disciples to find laborers for the harvest.
And so if you feel that God may be calling you to His service in whatever form, here are some tips that might help.
First, be informed. Get to know more about what vocation and ministry you are interested in. Know the way of life of those within the ministry. If you want to be a member of the music ministry in your parish, the best way is to get involved in their apostolate. Does it fit you? Does your talent fit the ministry? Some people would like to join the choir, but cannot pick up a tune. Perhaps the person is called by God to a different type of service.
If you are entertaining a religious vocation, get to know the congregation first and their way of life. You can join their vocation search-ins or seminars and talk to their vocation promoters. It will also give them an opportunity to know you better. Thus, they will be able to help you decide whether you have a vocation to their way of life.
Second, pray. Continue to ask the Lord for the grace of vocation. Receive the sacraments. Get involved in your parish or your school’s religious organizations or activities especially the Eucharist. Regular prayer life and active church involvement are best ways to nourish your vocation. If you wish, you can get someone who can be your spiritual guide and companion, or a spiritual director to accompany you in deepening your relationship with God and your sense of vocation.
Third, clarify. There are different ways to serve the Lord. And there are many motivations that spur us to join a group, an organization, an advocacy or a specific ministry. Sometimes, we are not sure, not just what group to join, but we have too many questions that we have about ourselves, our abilities and even our time. Take time to sort out one’s heart and mind.
The possibility of a vocation to religious life oftentimes come with questions, fears, and even anxieties. It is always helpful to have someone guide you as you go through the twists and turns of vocation discernment. It is good if you have a chance to meet someone in the congregation on a regular basis. Recollections, conversations, conferences are also helpful in discernment.
Fourth, discern. Discernment might mean living out what you think you are called for. It is to check if you can take the lifestyle change it demands. Commitment will always demand of us a regular time and sacrifice. There is no commitment without pain or without asking us what to forego. Sometimes what we like must take a backseat for something that is more noble or honorable. For example, this dilemma: a movie or time to pack for a charity activity?
The Jesuit program for in-depth and full-time discernment process for those considering religious life requires one to live with fellow discerners in one of our pre-novitiate houses. It furnishes you with an opportunity and means to attain and to demonstrate both human and Christian maturity required for entrance into the first formal stage of formation called the novitiate.
In the discernment process, one will be working out within the program four specific areas: spiritual, academic, apostolic and community life. One’s community life will test one’s personality and social life. Every person affects the community whether positively or negatively. In doing the mission Christ has called us to do, we will be working together and helping each other.
No one does the mission of God like a lone ranger. We need people to give us feedback on our performances so that we become better instruments of God. There is a way to become a missionary in a specific community but a different approach is needed in another place. The reason is that every community has a culture that is distinct and unique from others. There are ways of doing things that might not be ours. If we insist on our way, it may hurt the ministry than help it. And thus, we might drive away souls than gather them around the table of the Lord.
My father was an agriculturist. He said, cutting stalks of rice is a skill. There is a way of cutting rice stems that is different when one cuts sugar cane stalks. In harvesting rice, the scythe should slice the stem just a few inches from the root, so that it does not destroy the panicle that bears the spikelets. The spikelets form the seed.
Perhaps today we might consider what Pope Benedict XVI said that the new mission is the internet. As in the Gospel, we can think that Jesus wants to visit cyberspace. And the new method we might consider is social media. When Jesus sent people by pairs, in means that mission is always interactive and social.
When we do the mission of the Lord, we do it excellently. And there is a way of doing it in this present day and age that is different from the methodology of yore.
Incidentally if you're interested to join the Jesuit Vocation Seminar this July 11, Sunday, here's the link to the poster.