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Vocation to Penance

Personal Vocation TO A LIFE OF PENANCE

(See also related article on this link)

Your Personal Vocation

Vocation means thinking of one's whole life as a response." (Pope John Paul II)

Each person has a "personal vocation." That includes you!

Germain Grisez, professor of Christian ethics at Mount St. Mary's College and Seminary, has co-authored a new book, "Personal Vocation: God Calls Everyone by Name" (Our Sunday Visitor, 2003). In an interview with Zenit (2 October 2003, Feast of the Guardian Angels), Grisez defines personal vocation this way:

"We define personal vocation as God's call and plan for one's entire life. Ephesians 2:10 says: 'We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.' Personal vocation is unique for each one, and it includes absolutely everything -- all the good choices God would prefer one to make, all the things he allows to come one's way and expects will be handled rightly.

"Finding, accepting and faithfully fulfilling one's personal vocation is the way to respond to the universal call to holiness, for that means doing God's will in everything and accepting whatever comes as coming from, or at least permitted by, him, as described in Vatican II's dogmatic constitution on the Church ['Lumen Gentium'] in Nos. 40-41. "

"Since God has a particular, personal plan for everyone's life, he wants everyone to find out what the plan is. The process by which that is done is called discernment.

"It is not something mysterious nor is it something reserved only for an elite group consisting of those who think they may be called to the clerical or religious state. Everyone needs to discern what God wants of him or her.

"Discernment involves prayer, serious reflection, consultation with good spiritual advisers and levelheaded friends. Taking part in a retreat or something similar can be helpful.

"The central question is not 'What do I want out of life?' but 'What is God's plan for my life? Lord, what do you want of me?' People who approach discernment that way can be confident that God will answer their question. "


"Lord, what do You want of me?" is the question St. Francis asked before the Crucifix of San Damiano. It is the perfect question to ask in discerning your personal vocation. Only in fulfilling your personal vocation will you become all who God created you to be.

How do you know if God is calling you to a life of penance (conversion)?

Ask yourself these questions:

+ Do I desire to give myself totally to God?

+ Will I allow God to do with me whatever He wills?

+ Do I want to help others?

+ Do I recognize that the values and possessions of this world are fleeting?

+ Do I recognize that the teachings of Christ are the means to joy and union with God?

+ Am I willing to voluntarily relinquish my worldly desires for the good of my soul and the souls of others?

+ Am I willing to offer my sacrifices, trials, and sufferings to God in reparation for my sins and those of others?

+ Do I trust God enough to let Him use my penances as He sees fit?

+ Am I willing to transformed into an instrument of love for God and neighbor?

+ Am I docile enough to forgive my enemies, to pray for them, and to wish them well?

+ Do I repay evil with good?

+ Am I willing to renounce sin in my life and to follow the Ten Commandments, the teachings of Christ, and the doctrines of the Catholic Church?

+ Do I see penance as a positive good that will bring me spiritual joy and great freedom?

+ Am I willing to obtain and be obedient to a spiritual director who will assist me on the path of holiness?

+ Am I basically a happy person?

+ Do I understand that a life of penance is not a life of denial but a life of exchange of worldly things for spiritual ones?

+ Can I be flexible in my prayer time and duties?

+ Do I try to put myself into the shoes of others so that I may understand them better?

+ Do I strive to live moment to moment trusting God, and loving Him and neighbor?

+ Do I understand that any good I do is by the grace of God?

If you can answer "yes" to the above questions, or want to, you may have a vocation as a penitent, that is a person who moment to moment strives to embrace conversion for the love of God and of others.

God has led you to these pages for a reason, for all things work together in His plan for our lives. Pray about what you find here and ask God what He wishes for you. Then "Do whatever He tells you."


Please contact us if you would like us to pray for you as you discern a possible call to embracing the life of a joyful, modern penitent. We will add your name to our prayer list and pray for you daily, by name.

If you inform us of the state (in the USA) or nation in which you reside, we can also put you in touch with your Regional Minister who will assist you during your discernment process.

May God lead you into His perfect Will for your life, whether it be living this Rule of Life or in another way, and may you follow Him always until you live with Him forever!

Madeline Pecora Nugent

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