03 October 2011

The urgency of discernment

Reflecting on the call of the prophet Jonah, Father Steve Grunow of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries considers the consequences of refusing a vocation (with my emphases):


We are in the midst of a peculiar moment in the life of the Church where vocation has been construed as a kind of personal decision that one is free to accept or reject without consequence. Contrary to this assumption, the Bible presents a very different understanding of vocation, an understanding that insists that to resist or even refuse one's vocation means that the purpose of not only one's own life, but also the lives of others can be significantly effected
. Today's passage from the Book of Jonah is, in this regard, a case in point.

In terms of this biblical vision of vocation, a person's life is not merely self-directed, and what one decides about one's life is no simply a matter of preference or career. Instead, the purpose for which one has been created is illuminated as one accepts one's life as God-directed and discerns the kind of life that mind of God has conceived as necessary to bring a person to their fulfillment. It seems to me that we are enduring a sad age in the Church's life where too many are drifting, having fled their vocation... or having never even considered the call. The consequences of this flight from vocation are all around us, and the effects on the soul can be as terrifying as the storm described in the Book of Jonah.

Oddly enough, in surrendering Jonah to the power of the storm, the inhabitants of the ship were actually doing Jonah a great service- they did more than just cast him into the sea. Jonah was given up for the sake of his vocation, and there in the midst of the waves he could no longer run, hide or resist. He was now compelled to trust and let God take him where his purpose would be fulfilled.

The lesson? There is an urgency about discerning and accepting one's vocation, and despite the protests of many that insist the contrary, it is no small matter for one to resist or refuse God's purpose for one's life. 


1 comment:

  1. It's not that I disagree, but this kind of wording puts such a huge burden upon those of us who can't follow what we believe our Vocation to be, we haven't anyone to guide us and I, for one, am to the point that I am ready to give up.

    I'm too old, my debt continues to climb as I try to just hang on, and I have nowhere to go. It is clear I am not called to marriage...but I can't make private vows without an SD and SD's designated by God as opposed to themselves are not exactly easy to find.

    I KNOW I made a left where I should have made a right, but I can't find my way back and am sure I missed the train even if I do find that departure point.

    And I think that what Fr. Grunow leaves out is this: God cannot be taken by surprise. He knows the decisions we will make and I take hope from that.

    But from what he says, others will just sense condemnation, which is what I've been sensing for YEARS, even WITH the "God cannot be taken by surprise" teaching I learned in my Master's courses.

    The reality is in between; YES! There is urgency and it is very real! But at the same time...too many don't even KNOW about the various vocations and they do not consider them and are never introduced to them! Ever!

    And God knows about that, too, and has a plan.

    It places more urgency on those of us who hear the call...but can't respond and wonder if maybe we shouldn't because that call is not for us, but only for us to pass on.

    It's not simple, is it?