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Monday, May 16, 2011

Be Not Afraid

As many of you may have already known this past Sunday was the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Because with Him there are no coincidences, with the help of the Holy Spirit I had a pretty good conversation with God concerning my vocation after mass.

It was these words from Fr. Mitchel’s homily that got me praying:
It is often said that the moment after receiving the Eucharist is the best moment for discerning one's vocation. For it is at this moment that we are most inclined to hear Jesus' voice not with fear - not as do this because I told you so, or do that, or else - but with trust. We fear Jesus' voice when our pride tells us that Jesus cannot know us as well as we know ourselves, when our selfishness tells us that it would be foolish to turn any decisions over to him. We trust Jesus' voice when we realize he only desires to free us to be what we have always wanted to be, and to live a life of love that is measured by the beauty of his glorious cross. May Jesus then, fully present in the Eucharist, be the gate by which we come and go through life, and arrive at the true discernment of the vocation he has given to us, and to no one else.
I've probably reread that paragraph 24 times in the past 24 hours. It's beautiful. But there was a part that I heard during the homily that resonated with me:  

“ not with fear…”. 

Vocational discernment is a big deal at St.Lawrence and sometimes it seems like everyone under the sun is very actively discerning and getting answers. In fact four of my guy friends will be off to the seminary in the fall and some of my girl friends are confident knowing they are called to marriage. I on the other hand have no idea, no inclination, no compass teetering to one side or the other.

Let's face the facts; sometimes vocational discernment is intimidating. 

I'm a big fan of the dictionary references to drive a point home so here goes this one:


in-tim-i-date
[in-tim-i-deyt]
–verb (used with object)
1. to make timid; fill with fear.
2. to overawe or cow, as through the force of personality or by superior display of wealth, talent, etc.
3. to force into or deter from some action by inducing fear 

I'm scared of my discernment. But I'm not scared in the way some people are scared. I'm not terrified of the possibility of the Lord calling me to consecrate my life to Christ and be a religious . I'm not terrified that He may be calling me to the devoted single life. I'm not terrified that God could be calling me to a holy marriage. No that is not it at all. I am terrified of time.

I like to say that I want to know what my vocation is. Oh how simple it would be if He would just spit it out already, let's move on with the show. I pray for Him to reveal to me exactly what it is that He’d like for me. A swift kick in the right direction ought to do me some good. But the more I think about it the more I realize that I’m lying; to myself and to God.

I'm not ready to know my vocation right now! If I know what my vocation is then I’ll be obligated to live it out. I just got to college two years ago! What if my vocation calls me away? I'm proud beyond proud of my friends going to the seminary next year. The day I found out about one of them I was literally beaming. My boss even asked me if there was something different about me that day and then mentioned that it was because she hadn't seen me stop smiling since I walked in the door. But part of me is glad it's them and not me. Because they're leaving, moving on because God has asked them too. They're answering the call. Even if this becoming a priest isn't what God will end up calling them to in the end they're not too intimidated to answer.

If God reaches out to me in prayer tomorrow and tells me ever so obviously that I’m called to be a religious sister than I will have to take the first step in that journey. If he calls out to me and tells me that marriage is the way to go than I'll have to force myself to the vulnerability of being in a relationship. And these are what I fear. The future is a scary scary thing. Hearing the call for me, is a scary thing. Because if God calls than I'll have to pick up.

And what if I don't hear Him right? What if I make the wrong decision and choose the wrong vocation? What if I don't pick up in time and the opportunity passes? What if? What if?

While I was mulling over all of these things after receiving Christ's body in the Eucharist I heard the song Be Not Afraid in my head. Hearing God speak is an amazing feeling, one that I never truly had before St.Lawrence because I'd never taken the time to listen.

As I knelt in the pew after Mass I knew what I was supposed to do. I picked up the book of hymns, turned the page to Be Not Afraid and read the lyrics and Christ comforted me.

Are we certain that this songwriter didn't have vocational discernment in mind when he wrote this?

You shall cross the barren desert, but you shall not die of thirst.
You shall wander far in safety though you do not know the way.
You shall speak your words in foreign lands and all will understand.
You shall see the face of God and live.
Be not afraid.
I go before you always.
Come follow me, and
I will give you rest.
If you pass through raging waters in the sea, you shall not drown.
If you walk amid the burning flames, you shall not be harmed.
If you stand before the pow'r of hell and death is at your side,
Know that I am with you through it all.

And I thought about how even now when it seems like my discernment process is barren and unproductive there is a plan already set in motion and I will not die waiting for it. That I can find comfort following in the safety of God's will even though I don't know where He's leading me. That no matter where He sends me and which vocational direction He pushes me towards there is a difference that only I can make in it. That no matter what, as long as I am following God's will, I will see Him in that life.

It's like that sentence was meant for me that day. Be not afraid. Listen to Jesus "not with fear..." but with trust. He won't lead me down a path that He hasn't first been down Himself. I can find comfort and rest knowing that I can trust Him with my life, with my future.

And when times in my vocation are tougher than I ever imagined they could be and things don't seem like they're gonna hold together I'll get out alive. When there are people around me trying to persuade my choice in vocation out of their own selfishness listening to Christ will keep me on the right path.

He is there, through the whole process. When it feels like God will never reveal your vocation to you He is there, working on you. 

Be not afraid.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are so inspiring! this is like the 3rd or 4th blog post that you have that has really touched me in a personal way. Thank you so much!

Elizabeth said...

That's beautiful! More young women should approach discernment like this!

Maria said...

Hi Cassi, I don't know why I never saw your blog before, but I just found it now (and I see I'm on your blogroll! Thanks! LOL!)

I'm going through a bit of a rough patch with Catholicism myself but I just wanted to reach out and say Hello. This post here reminds me a lot of myself when I was a sophomore in college :-) I'm a full-bred east-coaster but I lived for the first three years after graduation in Overland Park, Kansas, discerning a religious vocation! I was discerning with the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, but I know there are a lot of great communities in your area (you must know the Apostles of the Interior Light, right?)

Anyway, peace, hope you're well, and hope to see another post from you soon!

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