Have you ever wondered what your purpose is?
If you’re like me, you think about this often. Ever since I was a child, I had this sense that there was something I was “meant” to do, someone I was “meant” to be.
As a teenager (when I had my life all figured out), I thought my purpose was to do well in high school, go to a reputable college and then get a prestigious job. I thought I would become financially successful and achieve high social status.
I eventually learned that I was following the path that I wanted, or thought I wanted, rather than the path that God intended for me. I failed to include Him in my “plan.”
It’s important to note that there’s nothing wrong with being financially successful. The reason this was a problem, and not the right path for me, was because my primary focus was on being “successful,” not on following God and being faithful to Him.)
Several years after graduating from college, I learned that according to Church teaching, God calls each of us to a particular state of life (also known as a vocation). It’s through this vocation that we can reach our ultimate call to “universal holiness” (cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, chapter 5).
Once I became devoted to the Church, I developed a strong desire to be holy; I felt that was what I was “meant” to do. However, I didn’t know how it would or could occur.
At the time, I was under the false impression that only priests and men and women in religious orders could become holy and ultimately become saints. Thankfully, I learned that each of us is called to “universal holiness,” and it’s not reserved solely for ordained or consecrated men and women! This discovery caused a much needed spiritual shift for me and changed my outlook on life.
This got me thinking (you know me, always thinking).
Does a person have to discover their vocation before one can attempt to reach holiness? Or can one live a holy life while discerning their vocation and walking this path with God?
I began to reflect on this more deeply. I read a blog about discernment, which led me to read about the life of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati. All I knew about him was that he was a young, zealous, Italian man who is in the process of becoming an officially recognized saint of the Church. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati died in 1925 at the age of 24 before discovering his vocation.
This did not stop him from having a profound impact on those he encountered in his earthly life as well as those who now pray for his intercession. When a person orders their entire life towards loving and serving God, which in turn leads that person to love and serve others, then that person is attempting to live a holy life.
Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati did just that. He devoted his life to God and served in the way he felt called; he did not wait until his vocation was clear before striving for holiness.
Each one of us is called to be faithful and true to the state of life in which we find ourselves. We can have an impact on those around us (in small and large ways) when we seek to discover and do God’s will in the present moment. We do not know when our time here will be complete, so why waste any of it?
The reason God calls each of us to a particular state of life is because He knows what we need for our lives to be meaningful and filled with true joy and peace. Only God can see the whole picture—past, present and future—and knows what’s best for each of us.
Though this is all true, He does not impose His will or force us to do anything. He always extends an invitation; He calls us to follow Him out of pure love.
When I pray, I often ask for specific intentions, while also asking God to do what’s best. I know that my request will only be granted if it’s in accordance with His Divine Plan.
If I feel internal or external resistance, I know it’s because I’m attempting to follow my own agenda and trying to control what’s happening, rather than letting God lead the way. When I’m not quite sure of what outcome to pray for, I simply tell God: I want what You want.
I don’t think we can ever be one hundred percent sure that we are in fact doing God’s will. When we spend time in prayer, receive the Sacraments frequently and give ourselves in service to others, we continue to grow closer to Him, and we’re better able to determine where we’re being led.
Life is a mystery and impossible to fully comprehend, but we’re given moments of clarity and understanding when God gives us this grace. I don’t think it’s necessary to see the whole picture—though sometimes I wish I could! We only need to ask for the next step, move in that direction and trust that God will guide us along the way.
Getting to heaven is the ultimate goal and the entire purpose of life; we must always have this in our sight and spend our lives striving towards it.
“The faith given to me in baptism suggests to me surely: by yourself you will do nothing, but if you have God as the center of all your action, then you will reach the goal.” ~ Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati