“The joy of the Gospel, which makes us open to encountering God and our brothers and sisters, does not abide our slowness and our sloth,” the Pope said in a message released Dec. 4.
“It will not fill our hearts if we keep standing by the window with the excuse of waiting for the right time, without accepting this very day the risk of making a decision. Vocation is today! The Christian mission is now!”
Pope Francis’ message was sent ahead of the 55th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which will take place on April 22, 2018, the fourth Sunday of Easter, with the theme of: “Listening, discerning, and living the call of the Lord.”
“Each one of us is called – whether to the lay life in marriage, to the priestly life in the ordained ministry, or to a life of special consecration – in order to become a witness of the Lord, here and now,” Francis said.
The Lord continues to call us to follow him, and we shouldn’t wait to be perfect in order to answer with our “generous ‘yes,’” he continued. We don’t have to be fearful of our limitations and sins, but instead, should open our hearts to the voice of the Lord.
We are each called “to listen to that voice, to discern our personal mission in the Church and the world, and at last to live it in the today that God gives us.”
Quoting from a pre-Synod meeting of bishops, the Pope explained that spiritual discernment is the process “by which a person makes fundamental choices, in dialogue with the Lord and listening to the voice of the Spirit, starting with the choice of one’s state in life.”
But today it is becoming more and more difficult to listen to the voice of the Spirit in our lives, he noted, especially as “immersed as we are in a society full of noise, overstimulated and bombarded by information.”
Often, this outer noise is accompanied by an interior confusion as well. “This prevents us from pausing and enjoying the taste of contemplation, reflecting serenely on the events of our lives, going about our work with confidence in God’s loving plan, and making a fruitful discernment,” he said.
The Pope also warned about being closed off, or too concerned with ourselves to be open to the surprises of the Holy Spirit in our daily lives.
“We will never discover the special, personal calling that God has in mind for us if we remain enclosed in ourselves, in our usual way of doing things, in the apathy of those who fritter away their lives in their own little world,” he said.
“We would lose the chance to dream big and to play our part in the unique and original story that God wants to write with us.”
Every Christian should grow in the ability to “read within” his or her life, he stressed, in order to understand how and in what way they are being called to share in the Lord’s mission.
The Pope offered reassurance, saying if God “lets us realize that he is calling us to consecrate ourselves totally to his kingdom, then we should have no fear! It is beautiful – and a grace – to be completely and forever consecrated to God and the service of our brothers and sisters.”