thomas merton on vocation

Our vocation is precisely this: to bear witness to the truth of Christ by laying down our lives at His bidding.

The importance of sacrifice, in accomplishing our work of finding and witnessing to the truth, cannot be overemphasized.

The fulfillment of every individual vocation demands not only the renouncement of what is evil in itself, but also of all the precise goods that are not will for us by God.
It takes exceptional courage and integrity to make such a sacrifice. We cannot do it unless we are really seeking to do the will of God for His sake alone. The man who is content to keep from disobeying God, and to satisfy his own desires wherever there is nothing to prevent him from doing so, may indeed lead a life that is not evil: but his life will remain a sad confusion of truth and falsity and he will never have the spiritual vision to tell one clearly from the other. He will never fully live up to his vocation.

If we are called to the place in which God wills to do the most good, it means we are called to where we can best leave ourselves and find Him. The mercy of God demands to be known and recognized and set apart from everything else and praised and adored in joy. Every vocation is, therefore, at once a vocation to sacrifice and to joy.

That does not mean that our individual vocation selects for us a situation in which God will become visible to the eyes of our human nature and accessible to the feelings of our heart of flesh. On the contrary, if we are called where we will find Him we must go where flesh and blood will lose Him, for flesh and blood cannot possess the Kingdom of God (I Cor. 15:50). God sometimes gives Himself to us where He seems to be taken away.

We know when we are following our vocation when our soul is set free from preoccupation with itself and is able to seek God and even to find Him, even though it may not appear to find Him. Gratitude and confidence and freedom from ourselves: these are signs that we have found our vocation and are living up to it even though everything else may seem to have gone wrong. They give us peace in any suffering. They teach us to laugh at despair. And we may have to.

The one thing that really decides a vocation is the ability to make a firm decision to embrace a certain state of life and to act on that decision.
If a person can never make up his mind, never firmly resolve to do what is demanded in order to follow a vocation, one can say that in all probability he has not received the vocation. The vocation may have been offered him: but that is something no one can decide with certainty. Whether or not he is resisting grace, the fact seems to be that he is "not called." But a calm and definite decision that is not deterred by obstacles and not broken by opposition is a good sign that God has given His grace to answer His call, and that he has corresponded to it.

1 comment:

  1. Ok Luke, I'm in the blog world now... let me know what you think!