Hello and welcome to this new blog! I’m Claire, and I teach Religious Education in a Catholic secondary school in Scotland. Through this role I have the joy of sharing the Gospel with young people on a daily basis, and the privilege of accompanying them on their faith journey in coming to know Christ and his limitless love.
This coming year the Church is working towards the Synod of Bishops meeting in October, which will have the theme of "Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment”. To help us prepare for this synod, this monthly blog will seek to reflect upon these themes. It is important that young people think about their role in the Church and in building the Kingdom of God; hopefully through my reflections on scripture and prayer and discernment I will be able to help you reflect upon your place in all of this.
“What do you want to be when you grow up?”
How many times have you been asked that question? How many times have you asked yourself that question? Perhaps you are still not sure of the answer. I know over the years I have offered many different replies to that particular question, and to be honest I have not yet settled on an answer (she says, aged twenty-nine).
We attempt to shape our own lives through our desires, career aspirations, travel plans and perhaps hopes for romantic attachments and a family of our own, which is perfectly normal, but we should be mindful that we have been created out of love with a purpose, a vocation.
Vocation is not a matter reserved to the priesthood or religious life, instead it is something which we are all called to discern. God has a plan for you. He brought you into creation and has blessed you with a variety of gifts and talents which when used well will bring you limitless joy in a life of service to Him and those around you.
Discerning a vocation is about taking that familiar question and handing it over to God, “Lord, what do you want me to be?”. That’s the easy part, the difficulty lies in figuring out His answer and agreeing to go along with His plan.
Paintings of the Annunciation offer us something most beautiful to meditate upon when thinking about vocations. So often in these pieces of art we see the Virgin Mary sitting down, with a book, minding her own business when her quiet is disturbed by the Angel Gabriel asking for her cooperation in God’s plan for the salvation of humanity.
What were Mary’s own plans for her future at this point? She was betrothed to Joseph and most likely had envisaged her life spent as the wife of a carpenter raising their family together in Nazareth. I’m quite sure that being the Mother of God had not featured in her plan.
If we look to the narrative of the Annunciation in Luke’s Gospel (Lk. 1: 26-38) we read of the Angel Gabriel presenting God’s plan for Mary, her questioning of how it could be possible and Gabriel assuring her “nothing will be impossible with God” (Lk. 1:37). Upon hearing these words Mary agrees to take part in God’s plan, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (Lk. 1: 38).
Perhaps in your own vocation story you are yet to be presented with God’s plan for you. Maybe it has been revealed, and like Mary you are questioning how it can be possible. Are you at the stage where you need reassurance that nothing is impossible to God, or are you ready to say yes?
What matters is that we are open and receptive to God’s call to us. Discernment is a beautiful thing; it is truly a lived grace. The uncertainty and fear of the unknown will eventually dispel and His will shall be made known to us. We should be happy and secure in the knowledge that wherever this journey leads us it will be to where we can best serve God and a life filled with love, hope and joy.