By Andrea Miller
’17-’18 Service Year
Recently, I had the pleasure to volunteer as a staff member on a teen retreat at the Marianist Family Retreat Center in Cape May Point, NJ. While I was in college, I had all of my Catholic retreats at this wonderful place, affectionately referred to as Mary’s House. Needless to say, Cape May will always have a special place in my heart because of this amazing house.
Our theme for the weekend was “Called By Name” and we invited the young people to consider where they feel God calling them to be now, and in the future. One of my most cherished Bible verses, Isaiah 43:1, sums this theme up perfectly: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine.” A topic of discussion this weekend was the difference between vocation and career. We considered the topic of discernment as well. There can be vocations to the religious life, single life, or married life, but we are called to more than one vocation. Trying to figure out our vocations takes time, patience, and discernment. In this world, how can we possibly find that with so many distractions?
One of our moderators pointed out that discernment is the decision between 2 goods things. I reflect on the last month in my own process of discernment about what I am doing following the end of my service year. I was so excited about making a decision of where I would be going that it clouded my judgement and added unnecessary stress to my life. I found that it wasn’t until I slowed down, stilled my inner worries, and listened with an open heart that I was finally able to pay attention to what God was trying to tell me. I also realized that needed wisdom and guidance from others in order to make this big decision. These individuals – my palancas, or levers – are trusted friends and family who have helped shape me into the person I am today, and I am blessed to have them in my life. I wasn’t able to discern with them until I stopped and listened for God’s call.
God came through, and I have decided to attend Boston College in the fall for my MA in Theology and Ministry. My service year in Camden has inspired me to continue on the path of serving others through Catholic ministry at the high school or college level (I’ll need more discernment for that decision!). I see this decision as only one of my vocations in life, but also connect it with my greatest joy, ministering to others, meeting the world’s greatest need, serving others. No matter what God calls me to be in my vocations, I am called to be a witness to Christ as His hands in the world, reflecting the love He shows for all of His brothers and sisters. What a beautiful blessing and great responsibility. It will be my life’s mission to undertake this call, and I have been commissioned with those around me to make it through the ups and downs of the journey. And of course, God will be walking beside me too, like footprints in the sand.
Have we quieted our hearts to hear God’s call recently? He is calling us by name, your name. Have we taken the time to listen with our heart, a place of much significance, about where we find Jesus in our lives? Have we considered our vocation in the here and now, about what brings us true joy and makes our hearts swell? Have we trusted in the slow work of God? Have we been willing and patient to listen to Him? Have we taken the time to reflect on our mission and how we live that out daily?
Have we listened for God calling us by name? We are His.
“God changes caterpillars into butterflies, sand into pearls, and coal into diamons using time and pressure. He’s working on you, too.”