By Kara Davis
Throughout my time as a casual discerner, and now as a pre-postulant with the Daughters of Charity, many friends, family members, and Sisters constantly reassure me that I’m in their prayers, or tell me “I’ve been praying for you.” The fact that others bring me and my intentions into their conversations with God is a reminder that I belong to something much greater than myself, and it offers a source of strength when I find myself wondering if I really have what it takes to enter into this life of heartfelt service and self-giving love. You never know the impact these words of encouragement might have on an individual discerning his or her vocation.
When I was a senior in college, I was in communication with a Daughters of Charity Vocation Director, and she would often visit me when she passed through my little college town during her travels. One visit, she was accompanied by Sr. Lucille Marie, a 92 year-old Sister missioned to the Ministry of Prayer. I remember enthusiastically walking the Sisters around campus, introducing them to my friends, and concluding with Mass at our Newman Catholic Center. At their departure, Sr. Lucille Marie gave me a soft hug, held my hands, and then looked into my eyes and said, “I will be praying for you and your vocation.” I barely knew this woman, but something within me trusted her words completely, and I knew that if this Sister was praying for me, I was in good hands.
Years passed and I continued my discernment as a graduate student and Resident Catholic Worker living at the St. Hedwig Haus of Hospitality. During that time, I questioned my vocation and longed for God to just speak to my heart and tell me what to do with my life. I toiled with whether I was supposed to be in graduate school for speech-language pathology. I wondered if I really had what it took to serve Christ in the Poor because there were days when I struggled to recognize His presence around the Haus. And then there were some days I wanted to quit everything I was doing and just travel the world. However, when my restless soul was reminded of Sr. Lucille Marie’s words, “I will be praying for you and your vocation,” I felt a glimmer of peace within me, and found the strength to continue asking God the difficult questions and walking forward along this journey of discernment.
Now as a pre-postulant with the community, Sr. Lucille Marie continues to pray for me and passes along gems of wisdom in her letters she sends with love. With a heart filled with gratitude, I give thanks for all of the people in my life who continue to pray for me and my vocation. I know that I could never had made it this far carried by my prayers alone. Just being aware that there were people out there praying for me, provided the encouragement I needed to confidently move forward in my discernment.
As we prepare for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Francis reminds us, “The Christian vocation is first and foremost a call to love, a love which attracts us and draws us out of ourselves, decentering us and triggering an ongoing exodus out of the closed inward-looking self, towards its liberation through self-giving, and thus towards authentic self-discovery and indeed discovery of God.”
Discernment does not occur within a vacuum, but rather, is guided by our conversation with God and strengthened by the prayers of others. I know that I constantly pray about my own vocation and my own needs, but Christ draws us out of ourselves and towards this self-giving love. From this love, we are called to be the ones telling others, “I will pray for you and your vocation.” Who knows, those words could be the encouragement another needs to keep asking God the tough questions, and respond with openness when He answers.