I have been amazed at how deeply concerned people are about "discovering the will of God." When we are young we want to find out God's plan for us. When we raising a family and pursuing a career, we want to know if we are doing God's will. And in mid-life and beyond we want assurance that we spent our life doing what God had in mind for us when he created us.
On this first anniversary of the canonization of Mother Teresa, I thought it would be helpful if we asked Mother Teresa how she knew what was God's will for her.
In broad strokes, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu entered the Sisters of Loreto when she was 18. She took the name Teresa and after her profession, she taught history and geography in Calcutta for about 15 years. Notice what happened next: Sr. Teresa noticed the poverty around her and began to feel distressed. On a retreat she prayed, talking to God about what she had seen and felt. She heard a call to give up everything and follow Christ into the slums to serve him among the poorest of the poor. For several years, Sr. Teresa prayed about this call and asked advice. The decision to leave the community of sisters she loved was difficult and not everyone understood her. When it was clear that this call was strong and not a fanciful idea, the decision was made that she would leave the Sisters of Loreto. It was a risk, and she placed all her trust in Jesus as she began her work. Nothing was clear, and she took one step at a time as it became clear that a decision was organically in line with the direction of the original inspiration. Teresa, now Mother Teresa, waited for God to act and with the help of those she trusted to guide her sought clarity with courage as she moved ahead with where God seemed to be leading her.
God has a plan for your life and is bringing it about. So what have you noticed, that speaks directly to your heart, draws you, or distresses you? Can you bring it to prayer and ask the advice of someone else who could help shed some light? Be ready to wait, to ask God over time for clarity, to consider different options, to be sure that it is a call and not a personal agenda, that it has "sticking power." You will need to take risks, but be a wise risk-taker. Make one decision toward your call and observe the consequences of the choice on you as well as on others around you. Keep in contact with wise guides who can help you with the difficult journey of transparency and courage. And most of all trust that God wants you to know and share his dream for your life.
You have a personal vocation within your own vocation, whether you are married, single, religious, or clergy. Following that vocation will make you happy and fulfilled. If parishes were to assist individuals within their parish to find and follow their personal vocations with energy and love and joy, imagine how our parishes would burn with the Light of Christ!
by Sr. Kathryn J. Hermes, FSP