As far as vocation is concerned, there is no vocational path without steps being taken. To dare to set foot on the road is to accept to move, to accept to leave our comfort zone, leave the sofa of our certainties and security.
PUBLISHED ONDec 2018
When we have to choose between good and evil, it is not very difficult. But when it comes to choosing between two goods – to refuse a good for a greater good – well, this is a much more complex dilemma.
To dare to choose the vocational road is to dare to decide! The boldness demanded by vocation does not limit our freedom, rather it calls us to the full exercise of it. It is because we are free that we dare to make life choices, even at the risk of making mistakes. It is in this certainty that the boldness of vocational discernment is based, not because one wishes to “take the risk of making mistakes”, but because one wishes to “hit the target” – to be happy!
Freedom cannot be confused as debauchery or as “doing what it feels like, when and how I feel like.” This would reduce the sense of freedom to some moments of pleasure and confine our being to a set of actions that alienate us from who we are and from what we want to be. On the contrary, to be free is to exert a responsible daring, that is, to make choices that correspond to the totality of our deeper being, without ‘compartmentalizing’ our life, but rather responding to the unity that characterizes our whole existence.
Responsible daring means to walk an authentic path that is simultaneously directed toward what we truly want to be and what God dreams for us. This path, which is not free from obstacles and interpersonal relationships, becomes, step by step, a path of responsible daring towards true happiness.
It would be naive to think that being daring is easy, especially when it comes to responsible daring, exercised in full freedom. However, and perhaps more difficult than having the courage to take a first step on the road, it is to dare to take a second, a third and a fourth step. In fact, vocational daring is to dare to remain faithful to the path and to walk. It is to dare to refuse stagnation and/or fatalistic resignation in the face of difficulties. What to do, then, in order to stay on the path?
St. Daniel Comboni, founder of the Comboni Missionaries, warned that “the cross is the mark of God’s redemptive works, for they are all born and grow at the foot of the Cross.” (Writings, 4564) Thus, difficulties and circumstances adverse to the path of vocation cannot lead us to slow down on the journey, but rather, they show us the authenticity of the vocation to which we are called – only at the foot of the cross can vocation flourish and so rise and become life for us and for the world.
To walk boldly on the vocational path is to move from an act of courage – which can characterize the impulse of the first step – to an act of faith and hope that allows us to remain faithfully on the move, without going astray.
When we encounter the vertigo of the vocation we are often led to seek means of escape, excuses to sooth us on the ‘comfort of our sofa.’ Like the prophet Jeremiah, we can look at our smallness and our limitations and say to ourselves: “Faith is the gift of God and I do not have so much faith, so if I start walking on this road maybe I’ll give up in a little while.” Or, I surrender to the arguments of others, saying, “I’m being stubborn, but this is not for me!”
The truth is that we all received a gift from God: the gift of vocation, the gift of who we are and the gift of the Christian community that accompanies us. The community – the one God places on our path to walk with us – sustains and nourishes the faith we need to have and assists us in the vocational discernment, so that we can persevere in the way that God has dreamed for us.
The daring of faith allows us to go further and to plunge with perseverance into the dream of the love of God poured out upon us. It is this daring of faith that opens us to a boldness in faith, that is, to a daring that is configured not by our superficial tastes or desires, but in Him who is the Lord of faith.
Indeed, those who dare to set their feet on the path to the discovery and fulfillment of their vocation must “deny themselves” (Luke 9:23) – to dare for what one longs to be.
The refusal of easy solutions is to be aware that there are no easy paths to fight and overcome the obstacles that we encounter in our vocational path, inasmuch as these are, ultimately, barriers that keep us from remaining in the love of God.
We are not alone on the road, so we will not be alone in the struggle against adversity. Faith is the engine of our hope and the reason for our free and responsible daring in regard to vocation. Thus, in the face of the anguish and the circumstances which will keep us from fully fulfilling God’s dream, let us set our feet on the path with the certainty of St. Daniel Comboni: “Trust in God, in the Virgin, in St. Joseph, and pray and get others to pray.” (Writings, 5157)