How Do We Discover Our Vocation?

This Sunday we celebrate Mother's Day AND the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. With that in mind, we're sharing an excerpt from Chapter 4 of  He Calls, We Answer: St. Josemaria Escriva on Vocation. 

How Do We Discover Our Vocation?

The sun has set in Judea. Nicodemus comes to Jesus seeking answers for the restlessness in his heart. With his features lit by the flickering lamp flame, his dialogue with Jesus opens up a new and mysterious world to him. The Nazarene's replies to his questions leave him perplexed. Jesus assures him: "The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do nor know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit" On 3:8). A vocation, every vocation, is a mystery, and discovering it is a gift of the Spirit.

The Book of Proverbs says: "Three things are too wonderful for me; four I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky; the Way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a maiden" (Pr 30.18-19). Even more so. who, without God's help, can decipher the workings of grace in a soul, and discover the meaning and destiny of a life? Who, without being guided by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, can know "whence

it comes or whither it goes" - the divine breath in the soul that is often audible only as longing and restlessness, inklings and hopes? This is something that totally surpasses us. Hence the first thing we need in order to discern our personal calling is humility: falling on our knees before the ineffable, opening our heart to the action of the Holy Spirit, who is always able to surprise us.

Therefore to discover our own vocation, or help someone else to do so, it is impossible to offer prefabricated formulas, or rigid methods or rules. That would be like trying to place rails on the ever original action of the Holy Spirit,? which "blows where it wills. " Cardinal Ratzinger was once asked, "How many paths are there for reaching God?" With disarming simplicity he replied, "As many as there are people." There are as many histories of vocation as there are men and women. Below we will try to point out some of the most frequent signs for reaching a conviction about one's own vocation, in order to help us to recognize them.

A Restless Heart

Nicodemus senses a restlessness in his heart. He has heard Jesus preach and been moved by his words. Nevertheless, some of his teachings have scandalized him. Certainly, witnessing Jesus miracles has amazed him, but he has also been unsettled by the authority with which Jesus expels the merchants from the temple, calling it "my Father's house" (Jn 2:16). Who would dare to speak like this In his heart he senses a growing hope that he finds it hard to repress. Could this be the Messiah? But he is still assailed by questions and doubts. He can't bring himself to follow Jesus openly, although he wants to find answers to his questions. So, he goes to him at night: "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him" (Jn 3:2). His heart is restless. 

The same thing happens to other people in the Gospel, like that young man who came up to Jesus one day and asked: "Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?" (Mt 19:16). He isn't satisfied with his life. His heart is uneasy. He senses that he is capable of doing more. Jesus tells him that he is right to be searching: "You lack one thing." (Mk 10:21). We can also recall here the apostles Andrew and John. When Jesus sees them following him, he asks, "What do you seek?" (In 1:38). All of these people are "searchers.” They are searching for a marvelous turn of events that will transform their life and make it an adventure. Their heart is open and hungry for more, filled with dreams and longings. Restless.

A young person once asked St. Josemaría how one sensed a vocation to his apostolate, Opus Dei. He replied: It's not a matter of feeling, my son, although we realize when God is calling us. The heart is uneasy, unsatisfied... You aren't happy with yourself Often when searching for our own vocation, everything begins with this restlessness in the heart.