DISCERNMENT ARTICLES

Destiny or free choice?

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Take a moment to consider some big questions:

Did God make you for a definite purpose? Or can you be happy choosing any number of courses for your life?

If God already knows your future, do you really have free will?

If you were ordained a priest, would it be because you chose the priesthood, or because God destined you for that vocation?

How can we reconcile these two profound ideas—God’s call and our own free will?

As Americans, we’re taught that with hard work and perseverance we can achieve anything, and we are perfectly free to choose any kind of life we desire.

As Catholics, on the other hand, we have a strong sense of God’s will. We believe each person is called for some definite purpose. St. Paul recognized this when he wrote “God, who from my mother’s womb, set me apart and called me through his grace (1:15).”

The beauty—and agony—of having a vocation is that the Creator of the Universe has a plan for your life, but it’s up to you to discover His call and freely respond to it.

Discerning your vocation, then, is particularly important, because it is possible to make a mistake and run from God’s will. In other words, God has a “Plan A” for you. If you make a mistake, of course He will continue to love you unconditionally, and He will show you the way to heaven via Plan B or even Plan C. But you may not be as happy as you would have been should you have chosen path A.

As a general rule, people flourish in their correct vocations! But how to find yours? Take the advice of St. Bonaventure:

“If you ask how such a thing can occur, seek the answer in God’s grace, not in doctrine; in the sighs of prayer, not in research; seek the bridegroom, not the teacher; God and not man; darkness, not daylight; and look not to the light but rather the raging fire that carries the soul to God with intense fervor and glowing fire.”

Or in simpler terms, as St. Augustine put it:

“Love — and then do what you will!”

When we love God above all else, He will reveal His plan for us.