Last few blog posts

Dear Friends,

We thank you for visiting For Your Vocation blog! We will be taking the blog off-line. Please join our For Your Vocation Facebook Page, especially the “Notes” tab on the side, where we will continue to post thoughts and reflections on discerning a vocation to the priesthood and consecrated life.

Again, thank you!


When Jesus is arrested and brought to trial on Good Friday, Pontius Pilate asks him, “What is truth?” (John 18:38) Have you ever wondered that? Not necessarily truth in the “big sense,” like the truth of humanity or the truth of the universe, but just plain-old everyday truth. Like whether or not you’re on the right path, whether you should “go for” the opportunity that just presented itself to you, whether your sense of how to live a moral life is on the up-and-up. What’s the truth of those situations? Is God happy with me and my life choices so far? Am I doing the right thing? Have I been following in the path God has marked out for me?

Trying to discern God’s movements in our lives is no easy task. It requires several things:
–a desire to know God’s movements
–an openness to noticing them
–a receptivity to accepting them and what they mean for my life
–a sense of courage to follow-through with the call or invitation of God
–a sense of humility to let go of my own agendas when God might be calling me away from them to something bigger.

This Sunday’s responsorial psalm is a beautiful plea to this God of ours: “Your ways, O Lord, make known to me; teach me your paths, guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior.” Might I suggest that you pray with this psalm prayer each day of the coming week, asking God to help you come to know him and his ways better. After all, who better to help us out with our big questions? He IS the Truth.

Living for the Lord

“For if we live, we live for the Lord,” says St. Paul (Rom 14:8) in this Sunday’s Second Reading. This is quite an examination of conscience for me. Is my living really “living for the Lord”? Is the way I choose to act, think, speak, and believe such that the Lord would want to say, “That’s mine!” Is the motivation and goal of my day-to-day living focused on God and what he had in mind when I was created in his image and likeness? And how in the world do I approach an answer to those kinds of questions?

I asked a six-year-old, “What do you think it means to ‘live for the Lord’?” He answered, “It means you should get a job in a church.” I asked a ninety-six year old, who answered, “It means, darlin’, that he’s your everything.” I asked a college student: “It probably means more than I care to think about right now.” I asked someone who has been hurt by the Church: “It means God is bigger than any mistakes I or anyone else might make.” I asked someone who’s given her life in service to the Church: “It means rising above the fray.” I asked a friend: “Living for the Lord is trying our best to live in love.”

So…with all the data in, I am challenged to answer the question myself. What does it mean to “live for the Lord”? I suppose it means receiving the gift of life God gives me each day, and spending it freely on whomever it is I encounter on that given day, transmitting to them the gift of life and love so freely given me.

What does it mean to you?


This Sunday’s responsorial psalm says, “If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts (Ps 95).” It seems pretty inconceivable to harden our hearts to the actual voice of God, doesn’t it? I mean, if I knew it was actually God talking, I would listen pretty carefully. Doesn’t everyone wish God’s voice would just come through some cosmic loudspeaker helping us know what to do on any given day in any given circumstance? So what is the psalmist saying when he exhorts us not to “harden our hearts” to the voice of God?

Have you ever known the right thing to do and just not done it? Or have you ever known that “being good” was going to cost you something in your friendships or in your social status? Or have you ever just changed the channel rather than hearing all the tragic news about the Middle East, the poverty of the African people, the victims of justice or violence, or the continued suffering of those most helpless? Have you ever walked past a homeless person on the street, afraid to look him in the eye when he asks you directly for help? Or have you ever heard that sudden, unbeckoned voice in the back of your head telling you to get in touch with an old friend or a long-lost classmate—and then shrugged it off as a weird memory?

I suppose that’s not fair, asking if “you’ve” ever had those experiences…because the real question each of us needs to ask ourselves is, “When I’ve had those experiences, how did I not recognize in them the voice of God?” Maybe this is the psalmist’s point. Maybe this is precisely his point. Help me, Lord, to hear and recognize your voice today—in the Scriptures; in the words of my family, friends, and coworkers; in every opportunity to love that you present to me—and keep my heart soft enough to answer, “Ah, Lord—there you are.”

The Gift of Youthful Fidelity

When Pope Benedict XVI met with young women religious at World Youth Day last week, he said, among many other beautiful things, that “the Church needs your youthful fidelity, rooted and built up in Christ.” It seems like such a simple statement, an obvious reality. But as I have sat with this since last week, I have been struck by his use of the word need.

I have the privilege of spending lots of time with young women who are either contemplating a religious vocation or have recently begun the formation process in religious life. I experience their “youthful fidelity” on a daily basis, and it is always—always—a source of inspiration and encouragement to me. There is a freshness and a vitality to their love for Christ that rekindles my own “first love” and reminds me of just why I have committed myself to Christ in the service of the Church for a lifetime. I think the Pope was 100% on-target with his use of the word “need.” The Church does need the witness of youthful fidelity to Christ, as a confirmation that boldly proclaims that all we have been promised by God is trustworthy…and that God is worth the gift of our lives!

The Holy Father went on to say to young women religious: “Your lives must testify to the personal encounter with Christ which has nourished your consecration, and to all the transforming power of that encounter.” It all starts with a personal relationship with Christ…and from there, if we remain open to his love, he can transform all that is fearful within us to trust, all that is anxious within us to courage, all that is doubtful within us to deep, deep faith. May the Christ who knows each of us so personally, through the power of his Spirit, fill you this day with the love of his Heart.

The Body of Christ at WYD

I am somewhat saddened by the fact that I will not be able to attend the World Youth Day festivities in Madrid this week—but I am looking forward to being there “virtually” through the wonders of cable and internet. What a brilliant notion Blessed John Paul II had in inaugurating this type of gathering, highlighting the faith life and spiritual potential of young people throughout the world. Thank you, Holy Father—and know of our special prayers for you and all those who will be gathering in Spain this week!

Yesterday, I went with several of my sisters to spend the day in New York City. We had a glorious set of experiences, ranging from walking across the Brooklyn Bridge to visiting Mother Seton’s shrine to celebrating Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. As we were driving home, we decided to recite a “litany of gratitude” of sorts, remembering the day’s blessings, and in particular the different people (strangers and friends) whose paths had crossed our own. It amazed us, as we went on for close to twenty minutes, remembering by name or description, all the individuals we encountered, either casually or conversationally. The day held so many opportunities to touch and be touched by others—but how easy it is to not notice those opportunities! What a genuine grace and blessing it was for us to help each other remember even the smallest gesture of kindness or the slightest head-nod from a passing biker—each of which served to brighten our day and bring joy to our experience.

All you pilgrims in or en route to Madrid, may your multiple experiences of one another as the Body of Christ provide untold blessings for you, particularly as you join together in celebrating our faith in Him who is our Head! Pray for us—we are praying for you!


Jen and Arianne, two very wise young women I know recently described discernment as “a dark place with questions.” Ever since hearing that characterization, I’ve been struck by how accurate it is. Now typically darkness isn’t a very attractive place to be! And certainly we’d rather have answers than questions. But is there a different way to approach this “dark place with questions” other than with fear and trepidation? Maybe so…

Darkness is the place of fertility for growing seeds; it is also the place out of which the rising sun emerges. Darkness, even for the discomfort it might bring, needn’t be completely frightening if we can perceive that it is the place of waiting and not the final destination.

And how about questions? Contemporary society doesn’t seem to like questions and ambiguity very much—we’d much rather have straight answers and clear-cut outlines. Is it right or wrong? Should I pursue this or that? Is God saying yes or no? But the questions are what stretch our faith and deepen our trust, leading us to believe in God’s answers rather than our own. And living with the questions rather than demanding the answers is what will make us more open, more faithful, and more humble.

So, discernment: “the dark place with questions.” It could be an intimidating place of scary uncertainties…if we choose to perceive it that way. But it could also be a fertile place of stronger relationship with God…if we decide we will let it be.

World Youth Day

“Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith”

The theme for World Youth Day 2011, taken from St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians (2:7), is rather striking. If you take a moment to read the passages of scripture that come just before and after this verse, you can see that St. Paul is warning his readers and encouraging them to be determined believers in Jesus Christ. As one who believes in Jesus Christ, you will experience persons who will want to “deceive you by specious arguments (2:4), or to “captivate you with an empty, seductive philosophy according to human tradition, according to the elemental powers of the world and not according to Christ (2:8).” Using the gifts of Faith, Hope and Love that you received in Baptism are powers of the soul that can be excercised against deception. Faith is a light that shines in our minds to see the truth; hope is striving for the good we do not yet possess and enduring hardship to reach that good, and love – of God and for God – is the reason why we believe and hope in Jesus Christ.

The powers identified by Paul will tempt us to believe something less than what is true, or to love what is not trully good for us. Making a spiritual pilgrimage to Madrid, Spain will strengthen each of us to recognize and commit ourselves to Jesus Christ, who is the Way, Truth and Life, in our lives. May your pilgrimage make you firm in faith!

USCCB Vocations Fair at World Youth Day!

If you’re planning to attend World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain, plan to join us at our Vocations Fair. Read more here.


In today’s Gospel we are reminded that St. Mary Madgalene was looking for the dead body of her Lord, Jesus Christ. She never found it. Instead, she first heard his voice, but didn’t recognize it. When he called her by name, “Mary,” she recognized the voice of her Teacher (“Rabboni!”) and Lord. When she looked up, she saw her risen, LIVING Lord.

Look deep within your heart. In the darkness of the unknown in discerning God’s will for your life, listen for the Lord’s voice. Pray that you hear the voice of the Lord call you by name, that you may acknowledge him as your LIVING Lord, who lives within you and (just as for St. Mary Magdalene) turns your darkness into light, and your tears into joy.

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