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National Vocation Awareness Week


National Vocation Awareness Week is November 5-11 this year. This is an opportunity for all the faithful of our diocese to reflect on, pray for, promote and possibly discern their own vocation.

No matter which vocation we are called to live as an expression of God’s love in the world, everyone is called to holiness. There are many resources on our website to aid you along this path.

Look for inserts in your parish bulletins November 4-5  offering tips for exploring your vocation (see below), as well as a poster of our seminarians and names of all those men and women from our diocese currently in formation to be priests or religious.

Seminarians and religious sisters and brothers will be speaking in a number of parishes November 4-5. Get to know our seminarians and what led them to seminary.

Sign up to receive our monthly Discernment Insights newsletter.

Pray daily for a future priest, sister or brother in the St. Therese Vocation Society.

Order materials to help promote vocations.

Sign up for the quarterly Fisher’s Net vocations newsletter.

Follow our social media with #ArlingtonVocations.

Explore your vocation

A message from Fr. J.D. Jaffe, Vocation Director

As a vocation director, I have heard many different vocation stories. Each one is a love story explaining how this particular person was called concretely to be loved by God and to love Him in return. Each vocation begins with His love for us. It is in that love for you that He is calling you to a particular life. This love involves first His total gift of Himself to you; and then, in response, your total gift of self to Him.

Christ our Lord tells us in the Gospel according to St. John, “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (Jn 15:16). His choice for you is what makes a vocation different from an “occupation” or a “career”. You can choose an occupation or a career for yourself, but a vocation (from the Latin vocare, “to call”) is HIS choice for you. It is His gift of love to you; and He invites you to undertake it for love of Him.

A brief word about discernment… when our modern ears hear the word “discern” the definition to see, perceive or distinguish comes first to mind. In Latin “discernere” literally means to separate, set apart, or divide. The Latin is more active than what we normally think of as discernment. Therefore, rather than simply discerning your vocation (seeking to know the answer), instead try exploring your vocation.

When you explore something:

  • You are active, not passive.
  • You don’t quite know what you are going to encounter
  • There is no expectation that you will get it right the first time.

A vocation is the particular life God has chosen for you, and for which He has specifically created you. It is his gift of love to you for your happiness, as well as a means in which we each get to cooperate with Him in the spread of the Gospel.  So do not be afraid… go and explore the vocation God has in store for you.

Cultivate Your Vocation

Not a problem, but a tree

It’s easy to think of vocational discernment as a problem to be solved. Plug the right information in (I like this, I don’t like that; I am good at this, I am not good at that; people say this about me, etc.) and voila… you get an answer. But the answers to the fundamental questions (who am I, why do I exist, and who does God want me to be) are not questions of logic. They can’t just be “figured out.”

A better way to think of discernment is as a tree. After all, it’s Jesus’ analogy; He’s the one who calls us to bear fruit that will last!

Let’s say you are given a tiny sapling and told it will bear fruit after some time. You don’t know what the fruit is at first, but if you think about it, that isn’t the important thing to focus on at the beginning! You need to give your tiny tree good conditions for growing. You need to provide it with fertile soil, give it water, make sure it is in proper light, and protect it from harsh weather. This will take time, effort, and most importantly, patience.

It is only after much cultivation and caring for the tree that you’ll see the first fruit blossoms, followed by the fruits themselves. Only then will you discover with great joy what type of fruit your tree produces.

A vocation also requires a similar cultivation. If we are to produce good fruit, we need to place ourselves in the right conditions, adapting ourselves so that we are open to answering the call of God.

Allowing the Fruit to Mature: Basic conditions for cultivating a vocation

Total Trust in God – God can and will give you the means to overcome any obstacle, no matter how insurmountable it seems. Have a childlike trust in your Heavenly Father and in His limitless love for you.

Faithfulness to Personal Prayer – God longs for you to understand what He wants for you, and will speak to you in your heart. Develop an intimacy with Him through frequent mental prayer. Over time you will hear Him more clearly.

Immersion in the Word of God – Answers are often found in Sacred Scripture, especially the Gospels. Allow the Holy Spirit to influence and form your mind and heart by praying with scripture and resting with His Word.

Give Oneself Totally to God – Do not worry about being holy, smart, or talented enough for God’s Plan. Just be willing to give yourself to the Lord as you are, with all your gifts and imperfections. God does great things with a sincere “yes”.

Be Patient – While a sense of urgency in discovering your vocation is good, God’s plan may include allowing you to suffer through periods of doubt and uncertainty. Your faithful patience will be rewarded with “fruit that will last.”

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