5 Excuses That People Often Make When Discerning A Religious Vocation

by Vocation

la vocación

The moment when we start to ask and pray, “What is God calling me to do?” in regard to a religious vocation can be intimidating. However, discovering the vocation that God has intended for each of us is something marvelous.

It’s truly wonderful… but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to say “yes.” We know that if we respond to God’s call, we will experience great happiness. However, doubts and concerns often arise, and sometimes become excuses that keep us from answering God’s call.

There are five common excuses that often come up when discerning our vocation. Let’s dive into these excuses and explore how we can overcome them in our journey of discernment.

5 Excuses That People Often Make When Discerning A Religious Vocation

1. “I’ll wait to see if over time I still feel this way.”

5 Excuses That People Often Make When Discerning A Religious Vocation

While discernment takes time and prudence, it cannot go on forever.

“If we truly understand what it means to discover our vocation, which is to know God’s plan for our lives, it is not about waiting but about having hope,” writes Alfonso Aguiló in his book The Call of God.

A few lines later, he writes:

“God may be in a hurry. Just as many plants freeze in the cold, the same happens with numerous vocations that let time pass without responding to God. If we consider this in the silence of prayer, we may discover that God’s timing carries a sense of urgency. (…) It’s not about rushing anyone, but ensuring that as days, months, and perhaps years go by, we are not missing our moment. We should reflect calmly, but without endlessly delaying our response.”

Think about the apostles: Simon and Andrew heard Jesus’ call and immediately followed Him, leaving their nets. Matthew saw that the Lord invited him to follow Him, and he immediately left the tax booth.

2. “I am not worthy of this vocation.”

5 Excuses That People Often Make When Discerning A Religious Vocation

As Chesterton wrote, “Mediocrity, perhaps, consists in being unaware of greatness when it is before our eyes.” If we see a vocational path right in front of us and fail to realize its magnitude, it’s possible that we haven’t fully understood it.

In other words, it’s normal to feel fearful or think, “This is too much, it’s very important, it’s too big.” Great! It means you have enough inner life to comprehend that all of God’s paths are a beautiful, a privilege, a gift, and a responsibility.

And great! It means you are normal. If suddenly you see that God is calling you to a specific vocation and it doesn’t scare you… it could be that you are unaware of everything it entails, or perhaps pride has snuck in, making you believe that you can accomplish everything through your own talents or strengths.

Lastly, great! It means you have understood that God does not give anyone something insignificant. Scripture tells us that He distributed 10 talents, 5 talents, 1 talent… but to each according to their abilities. Surely, each one felt fear, but only one had so much fear that they hid the received gift and couldn’t partake in the “joy of their Master.”

If God gives you a gift and you feel fear, it doesn’t mean you are insignificant or lacking what it takes to respond. It means you are receiving something incredible, and He will give you His own strength where your strength ends.

3. “I’m just too excited about the charisms of this ministry.”

5 Excuses That People Often Make When Discerning A Religious Vocation

It’s possible that after finding a ministry within the Church that aligns with our charisms, we become excited and desire to participate more and more in its activities or formation programs… and suddenly, the question may arise, “What if this is the place where God is calling me… forever?”

It can be scary, but that’s natural because all “forevers” can be intimidating. Anything that is “completely” can be a little daunting. However, giving all of yourself to God forever is the only way to be fully happy.

The concern of “I really like this order, I want to give myself completely to God from here… but what if it’s just temporary enthusiasm?” is valid. But it cannot be determinative or something that holds us back.

In other words, feeling enthusiasm doesn’t necessarily mean “this is it.” But feeling enthusiasm also doesn’t necessarily imply that “perhaps it’s not the right path.”

Through prayer, discernment, and spiritual guidance, we can better understand our feelings and how they relate to our vocation, and to what God has planned for us.

4. “I feel like I need more life experiences first.”

5 Excuses That People Often Make When Discerning A Religious Vocation

There are many people who jump from one ministry or activity to another, from one vocational discernment process to another… and they still can’t “convince” themselves of which is the best place for them.

The same goes for someone who keeps changing partners and can’t help but wonder, “What if there’s someone out there who is more suitable for me? How do I know if I’m committing to the right person?”

God calls at every age, in every circumstance. There is a rich diversity of stories that testify to this.

What matters is not the quantity of experiences and knowledge, as I mentioned. What does matter is maturity in our relationship with God, which allows us to identify what God is asking of us and will guide us in that direction.

5. “If I talk to my spiritual director about it, they will try to convince me to pursue a religious vocation.”

5 Excuses That People Often Make When Discerning A Religious Vocation

The response that God expects from us is… our own. To offer it, we must give it freely. Therefore, discernment is a personal journey.

However, often, from an outside perspective, some aspects may be seen more clearly than we can grasp or understand because they are right in front of us.

It’s not about seeking everyone’s opinion, as that could lead to greater confusion or listening to the “wrong shepherds.” But a spiritual director or someone with a deep spiritual life who knows us well can help us reflect on the insights we encounter in prayer.

This doesn’t mean that “others can see someone else’s vocation better,” but they can help temper impulsiveness or ignite a spark of motivation in our passivity. They can assist us in identifying the origin of our dispositions or reservations, guiding us to purify our intentions and supporting us in recognizing whether our circumstances are more suitable for one path or another, one institution of the Church, and so on.

You may feel scared and think, “If I discuss this with my spiritual director, there will be no turning back, and they won’t leave me alone.” But rest assured, firstly, that this is a person who knows you, cares about you, and only wants what is best for you. Would it serve any purpose to “force” you into one path or another? No. It wouldn’t be good for you, for the one accompanying you, or for the Church.

Secondly, let go of the idea that they won’t leave you alone. Have confidence that seeing and embracing your own vocation… is the only way to find, embrace, and not lose peace!

This article was originally published HERE.

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