A Better Understanding of my Vocation

As 2011 draws to a close I am reviewing my thoughts on what this year brought to me and my family. I was out of work for about 7 months this year, which was in itself a blessing. I was able to spend time with my wife and children and get to interact with them in way that working fathers are not usually able. During my job search I prayed a few different novenas many times over, but one specific novena has changed my outlook on the place of work on my life.

Before I continue, I need to jump topics a little and talk about vocations. I doubt that many people ever stop to consider what God has called them to do with their lives – especially not when they are teens or young adults. For those non-Catholic readers, you may be asking – what exactly is a vocation? I found a great resource at vocation.com where the term is defined “In the simplest terms, ‘vocation’ means a ‘call.’ So, in general terms your vocation is what God calls you to do with your life.” The Church teaches that while each and every person has a call to love, serve, and know God, every individual has a unique way in God wishes those goals to be fulfilled. The primary vocations recognized today are: priest, religious, married, and consecrated single life. I never gave my vocation much thought, until I had reached my early thirties and was still single. I found myself wondering what God really wanted me to do with my life and so embarked on a journey to try and discover what that was. At the end of my prayer journey I knew that my vocation was to marriage. I went on to find a beautiful lady, get married and have a family (as my first paragraph would certainly indicate!).

Now back to the main thrust of this post – while praying a novena to Saint Josemaria Escriva (for the third time) something really clicked in my brain about the place of a career in my vocation. If my calling from God is to a husband and father, then I must be a provider for them and that means that one of the cornerstones of my vocation is my profession. It is not good enough that I love my family, teach my children the faith, or be the spiritual head of our household. Don’t get me wrong all of those things are critically important, but if my family does not have food to eat or a home then all of those good things are greatly diminished. In other words, my profession is inexorably linked my vocation, which is in turn linked to my salvation. Wow – my profession should be treated with the same respect as any other Godly task that I perform. One does not simply work to survive, but one works to serve his or her vocation and, ultimately, God. This conclusion of mine can also be found in the scripture in James chapter 2 verses 15 and 16, “If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,’ but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it.”

So if my profession is one of the cornerstones of my vocation, I must treat it with the utmost respect and diligence. Everything I do at work is really done in service of my vocation and, by extension, God. Some of the gems I found the novena are:

“help me to see my job as a path to holiness and a service to others, where God my Father awaits me at every moment, asking me, in each situation, to imitate Jesus when he worked as a carpenter in Nazareth”

“May I never work carelessly, but be convinced that work done badly cannot be sanctified”

“may he make me see in the area of my work…opportunities he offers me to help my colleagues, friends and clients discover the marvels of the Christian faith”

Now that I have found employment and I am busy settling in to the daily work life again, I have noticed the lessons of my novena prayers taking a back seat to pressing matters of learning all I need to know to be successful in this new position. However, I have scheduled some time in the new year to pray a novena to Saint Josemaria to do a good job so that I might be reminded again the importance of my profession in the grander plan surrounding my vocation.