Discerning your Call
Each of us has a vocation. Above all, that vocation is to live in relationship with God. There are many ways of serving God and living out our Christian calling – in marriage or single life; in priesthood or consecrated life. Every vocation is a gift from God, and our response to it is itself a gift and grace. The Carmelite way of life is just one expression of the many parts that make up the Body of Christ.
Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He comes to offer us fullness of life. Whatever our vocation, it is the one which will bring us deepest joy, peace and inner freedom. That does not necessarily mean it will be easy or without cost or struggle. The cross is an essential aspect of all Christian discipleship. But it should ultimately bear fruit in a life of love and service for God and for others, in witness to resurrection life and joy.
If you are wondering how and where God may be calling you, there are certain things you can do to help listen and discern the path ahead:
- Offer yourself to God unconditionally
- Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you
- Make time for prayer, silence and listening to God
- Go to Mass and participate in the sacraments
- Talk with a spiritual guide or vocations director
- Join a discernment group
- Deepen your commitment to discipleship and to growing in your faith
- Look honestly at your gifts, temperament and aptitudes
- Listen to what you most deeply desire
How can you know if you have a vocation to Carmel? There are as many answers to this as there are Carmelites. The sense of vocation is a very individual one – clear and strong for some people, hesitant and tentative for others. Some may experience a sudden and insistent sense that they are called to this specific way of life. For others there may be simply a mysterious drawing to something that on first acquaintance is totally alien. It takes time, prayer, trust and surrender to recognise the will of God. There is no risk-free way of discerning a vocation, but if we are seeking God sincerely then we can trust in God’s faithfulness. Sometimes the way ahead may seem clear. At other times, it can feel like launching out into the unknown. In the end, we have to entrust the journey to God, and then simply step out in faith.