Signs of a Vocation

by Martin Pable -

vocations8How to know you have a vocation to the religious life

I was asked to share with you some thoughts on how a person knows they have a vocation to the religious life. It is difficult to pin that down because a vocation is first of all a mystery. God does not just Jump out of the sky and tap us on the shoulder or knock us off a horse the way He did with some people in the Bible. Ordinarily God uses very ordinary instrumental means to let us know what He is calling us to, and that is always a mysterious thing. It is very personal to each one of us. I can't give you any absolute rules for this. I guess, in one sense, the wonderful thing is - that God respects our individuality and treats us all as persons. He respects our freedom and he wants us to use our heads and hearts in trying to discern our vocation. Remember that famous line in A Man For All Seasons, where Thomas More says something like "God made the animals to serve Him by instinct blindly but He made man to serve Him wittingly." That is, to use his wits. We have to use our wits to try to discern what God is asking of us.

In the history of the Church, you will consistently find spiritual writers and theologians saying that there are certain natural signs that God uses by which He inclines us, and draws us toward a vocation. The Church has always looked for those signs. If a person has those signs in some degree, then there is a good chance he/she is called. You never know for sure ... but all the way along the line you will be asking yourself if there are several discernable signs present by which you can judge whether you are called or not.