Mass Times

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Calling and Discernment

3 Examples of Calling

Example 1, Hunger:

All people experience hunger and the need for food. This is a calling for someone to produce, deliver and/or prepare food for people. Those in need of food are the instruments of calling… the ones making the call heard. Those who produce, deliver and/or prepare food are the ones being called, hearing the call, and are responding to it. The calling dynamic of need and response is present in every aspect of our lives. God is ceaselessly calling from you and to you to invite you and others into loving responses that build the deep connections that bind people together in supportive communities. Calling is at the core of what makes human relationships and human community work.


Example 2, Infants:

Even infants can be instruments of calling. When babies instinctively sense the need for human attachment, they may invite a parent or other adult to connect by making eye contact with the adult. This gaze is a call. It is an invitation to an adult to make a free and loving response. That response could be as simple as offering a smile or engaging in a game of peek-a-boo. The interaction builds trust and healthy attachment in the child which are foundational for successful participation in human community. This shows how calling is God’s way of accomplishing good things in the world without force and how calling builds connections that we need not only for survival, but also for human thriving.


Example 3, Friendship:

Good friends often confide in each other about things that matter to them. Imagine a friend who is feeling directionless and expresses her need to get in touch with her sense of purpose and meaning in life. This experience of the need for purpose is a call. When a friend expresses this need, we can be instruments of calling by becoming curious about what the need means and exploring it with our friend. We can also notice and comment on the unique gifts that we see in this friend. God may use us as instruments to call our friends forward on their discernment journeys.

How Do You Know a Call is Really a Call?

Other Ways to Think about Calling

Lots of people talk about calling without ever using the word calling. Here’s an excellent presentation on calling that does just that.

Emily Esfahani Smith talks about 4 keys to living a meaningful life:

  1. Belonging
  2. Purpose
  3. Transcendence
  4. Story

Belonging: It’s hard to hear your calling by yourself. If love is the root of calling, then loving relationships are the place where callings are experienced.

  • How is belonging a key part of your life? What can you do to enhance it?
  • How can you help others feel like they belong?

Purpose: Try to finish this sentence – I was put on this earth to ______________. Many people find that the answer to that question gives them a sense of their purpose. The answer might be one word or a full paragraph with lots of interlocking ideas and activities. The point of purpose is to have something or some things that get you out of bed in the morning with a sense of meaning.

Transcendence: Faith is essentially a way of looking at the world with the belief that there is more to this existence than my mind or any human mind or collection of minds can take in. There’s something bigger than this existence, and we can tap into that something or someone to ground us in deep meaning.

  • How do you experience transcendence?
  • What role does mystery play in your life?

Story: You are the author of your story. You can tell a tragic story about your life, or you can tell a hopeful story about your life; it’s your choice. The story you tell is likely to be the story you believe. If your life is not going the way you want it to go, you can work on rewriting your story.

  • What is your life story?
  • How do you want your story to end?
  • What chapters need to be written to get to your desired end?

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