I have been in the process of “discerning a vocation” (i.e., determining whether I am called to become a priest or religious brother) since becoming Catholic. I’ve visited and corresponded with people from several religious orders, read lots of promotional materials, and prayed a great deal about this matter. Today I got to talk for a few hours with a Passionist priest visiting our parish about my discernment. He gave a lot of sound advice, perhaps the most important being the need for me to put aside my own preferences and 1) learn to listen to the still, small voice of God and 2) be willing to submit to whatever God calls me to do. Just look at biblical prophets such as Jeremiah. He resisted the call of God, but ended up yielding. And in the Church we honor Mary’s “fiat”–”Be it done unto me according to your word.”
The priest’s advice has helped me see areas in which I’ve been holding onto my own will and wanting even the discernment process to be done my way. For instance, I’ve relied too much on my own ability to discern God’s will and to grow spiritually rather than seeking the assistance of older, wiser Christians. Also, I need to spend more time listening to the Lord in prayer. I’m quite good at speaking to the Lord, but not so good at sitting still and letting Him speak to me. And as I do so, I can learn to distinguish which of my ideas/pursuits actually line up with God’s will and which are just my own preferences or things that have caught my fancy. He helped remind me of the wisdom of Proverbs 3:5–”Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.”
Forgive me, Lord, for my pride!
In the following video clip, Fr. Robert Barron talks about religious drifters. He points out that much of this drifting is due to people insisting on having things according to their own terms instead of God’s terms. The disciples were called by Christ–they didn’t call Him. Their response was simply to obey that call. Likewise, we need to let go of our own stubbornness and yield to God’s way. As Peter Kreeft remarked once, the song of everyone in hell is “I Did It My Way”!