by Sasha T. Brelinsky
As I struggled to focus on the gilded monstrance across the convent’s adoration chapel, I caught myself repeatedly redirecting my attention away from the chapel’s other occupants. Most of them knelt seemingly motionless, which led me to second-guess my own involuntary swaying movements.
None of them seemed to have a prayer pamphlet during the rosary, so I timidly tucked away my copy of the Apostles’ Creed. Even several of the school-aged girls, whom I was visiting the convent with, seemed to have an aura of devotion unhindered by any distraction.
Frustration Crept In
I was nearly halfway through the two hours of adoration when my frustration overcame me. I began to repeat my petition for strength, grace, and direction in my vocation when a sudden realization came over me. I was not yet mature enough to enter the convent.
Peace filled me for the rest of the weekend and into Monday, when I joined my family for our weekly adoration hour. I prayed for continued direction and I thanked God for blessing me with serenity. Then, I witnessed my youngest brother sit at the front of the chapel and scribble on his left palm.
Expressions of Love
He did not intend to be disrespectful, nor was he directly neglecting the Divine Presence. As a child, he could not yet read the devotional books or comprehend the concept of a vocation. He was still beginning to understand the importance of sharing his toys. To him, love was expressed through obedience and the simple prayers or instructions he could remember, but not yet comprehend.
A child loves his mother through small actions according to his abilities, such as presenting her with a dandelion he happened upon. A man loves his wife with complete self-surrender, by providing for her needs and dedicating his life to their marriage. Both are expressions of love which adhere to the maturity of their capabilities.
One Destination, Different Paths
The lives of the saints are set out to be imitated for their virtuous convictions. However, God’s Will provides different vocational capacities for each soul, so no two lives will run exactly the same course on exactly the same timetable.
I realized that my frustration had been fostered through the comparisons I constantly held against myself. I was expecting to find a pattern of holiness which would assure me of my vocation, but instead I had begun to dwell on my own shortcomings.
One of the religious sisters shed light on my situation by telling me, “Our vocation is how we love God.” Every vocation is a relationship, a way in which God reveals Himself so that we can individually know and love Him. Although many vocations have the same circumstances and the same eternal destination, the development of each vocation is different.
It Is Life
A vocation is a lifelong journey, not a one-time decision. It is not a choice which alters the rest of one’s life. It is one’s life. God created everyone for the purpose of loving Him. However, His Will for each of us is individual because He loves each soul on an individual level.
Through comparison, my relationship with God became unfocused. I was not developing the spiritual maturity I needed to confirm my vocation. Instead, I became more entrenched in doubt because I felt that I was not good enough unless I was just like everyone else.
The spiritual journey of vocation is not scheduled or mapped on the same course for everyone. Each soul has the capacity for love, but God’s Will determines how it is best expressed. That expression is our vocation.