How do I find fulfillment in life? How do I obtain happiness? How do I fully become a man or woman? These perennial questions are increasingly asked in today’s directionless world, where no one accepts ready-made solutions and people must find answers on their own. Resistant to standards imposed from outside, most people in practice try to make the most of life and construct happiness according to their own understanding of it. The ideal of happiness comes from their own education and experience, but, whether they notice it or not, is also strongly shaped by mainstream culture and the media. Usually such happiness is fragile—unable to stand up under sicknesses, failures, separations, and the various trials we all encounter. Then life seems not to have kept the promises it made us in our youth.
Yet, I believe human life is a marvelous adventure. Despite the burden of sufferings and disappointments, it offers us means to grow in humanity, freedom, and interior peace, while exercising our entire capacity for love and joy.
There is, however, one condition. We must give up our own agendas and allow ourselves to be led by life, in happy events and difficult ones, while learning to recognize and accept the calls addressed to us day by day.
“Call” is the keyword. The idea, simple but very meaningful, is absolutely fundamental to our temporal and spiritual plans. Human beings cannot attain fulfillment solely by carrying out their own projects. These projects are legitimate and necessary, and we must bring our intelligence and energy to bear on accomplishing them. But that’s not enough, and in the event of failure it can lead to disillusionment. Another attitude, one in the end more decisive and fruitful, must accompany our initiating and carrying out of projects: that of listening to the calls, the discrete, mysterious invitations that come to us continuously throughout life. This attitude of listening and availability takes priority over even the projects themselves. I believe we can be fulfilled as human beings only to the extent that we perceive and respond to the calls life addresses to us day in and day out: calls to change, grow, mature, enlarge our hearts and our horizons, and leave behind hardness of heart and narrow-mindedness in order to welcome reality in a larger and more confident manner.
These calls come to us in many ways. Sometimes they come through experiences or by the example of others who touch us, sometimes from desires that arise in our hearts or requests from people who are close to us, often from Holy Scripture. They originate from God, who gives us life, never ceases to watch over us, and wants tenderly to lead and constantly intervene for each of his children in a way that is discreet, often imperceptible, yet efficacious. Although many are, unfortunately, unaware of this presence and action of God, they reveal themselves to those who know how to place themselves in the attitude of listening and availability.