Somebody asked me recently how a vocation begins. At first I thought it a strange question - a vocation begins in the mind of God. But it is proper to ask how we perceive that vocation. In my experience, for many people a vocation presents itself initially as a series of little moments of a certain inner restlessness. You want to do something great with your life. You feel that God wants something more of you. You're concerned about the suffering of men and women - spiritual as well as physical. You enjoy the life you are living now, and yet you feel that there is something lacking. These feelings come and go, like waves on an inner ocean. Like distant whispers of a call that will become more clear in time.
How does a vocation begin? With these movements to love that prepare the soul to desire generosity and commitment. They could well be signs of a vocation moving us to awaken our hearts to God's will, urging us to struggle to conform our life to the dignity of a child of God, to pray, to listen attentively to what God may be trying to tell us. Our response is important. We have to try to ensure that we are not spiritually asleep when he calls - that his call doesn't fall on deaf ears.
Perhaps that is why our Vocations Retreats are so effective. They give us space to put ourselves in God's presence and to listen more attentively to his call. Next weekend we have another retreat coming up. This time it is for girls who are considering a vocation to the Religious life. No one, least of all me, can tell the participants they have that vocation. All we can do is offer them the possibility of time for a more attentive listening to those divine whispers.