Meditation in mind
How can I choose the correct vocation God wants for me? This is an important question every unmarried man and woman should ask themselves. For a little error in the beginning leads to a great one in the end. Aristotle explained, “The least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousand fold.” Unmarried men and women need to discern the vocation that God wants for them so that they fulfill His plan.
Now, there are some objective signs of a religious vocation. For example, does the person have the desire to be a priest or religious? Does the person have the ability to do the things a priest or religious does? Is that person accepted by the superior, such as a bishop? If so, these are good signs that one is being called to take the leap of faith and formally discern the priesthood or religious life, either in the seminary or in a religious order.
Although these are some objective signs of a vocation, knowing God’s will intellectually is not enough. My experience has been that people need the strength to take that leap of faith. So, what can help with this? Mental prayer or meditation.
Meditation has a couple of effects on one discerning a vocation. First, it unites us more completely to God. When we sacrifice our time each day for meditation, we are being led by God — instead of the things of this world. “I will lead her into the wilderness, and I will speak to her heart” (Hosea 2:14). This daily encounter with God stirs us to holy desires, good acts of the will, humility, confidence, self-sacrifice, resignation, and especially to love and repentance from our sins. St. Teresa of Avila said, “Acts of love are those that keep the soul inflamed with holy love.”
Secondly, meditation obtains grace from God. Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). When we are persistent in meditation each day, we will receive innumerable graces to do God’s will, to have the confidence and fortitude to say “yes” to whatever He wants.
Some might say they can’t meditate or it’s too difficult. Not true. Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly. Meditation is worth doing poorly. Even if we fidget for 10 minutes, even if we fight distractions the entire time, those 10 minutes are still fruitful because it was offered to God. This is pleasing to Him.
So, how does one practice mental prayer or meditation? One simple way is to begin by going somewhere quiet and to get rid of all unnecessary thoughts. Say a prayer to the Holy Spirit to begin. Having some reading material, like the Gospels or a spiritual book from a saint, can help with the beginning part of the meditation. After we have read a little, put down the book and reflect. We want to ask God to help us put into practice what we just read. We can then make acts of affection, like, “My God, I love you above all things.” We want to then offer Him our petitions. At the end, we thank God for the inspiration received and make a particular resolution to put into practice some virtue or avoid some near occasion of sin.
Meditation helps the person discerning a religious vocation because it both inspires and offers graces to do God’s will.
Jesus Christ is calling men and women right now to leave everything and to follow Him as a priest or religious. Let us continue to encourage and pray for those unmarried men and women, that they be open to the vocation God wants for them and have the fortitude to pursue it.