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Listening to God's call: He wants us for himself Print
Guest column
Thursday, Apr. 26, 2012 -- 12:00 AM

St. Jeanne Jugan was well into her 40s when she established the Little Sisters of the Poor. Some might consider her a “delayed” or “late” vocation, but I don’t think Jeanne was delayed at all. From an early age she had a sense of her vocation.

Jeanne knew that God loved her and was calling her; she just didn’t know where the call would take her. When Jeanne turned down a marriage proposal, she told her mother, “God wants me for himself, he is keeping me for a work as yet unknown, for a work which is not yet founded.”

St. Jeanne’s words are worth pondering as we prepare for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. “God wants me for himself.” These words took on a specific meaning in the life of St. Jeanne Jugan when she opened her heart and her home to a poor elderly, blind woman who had no one to care for her. But they really apply to all of us.

Redeemed and chosen by God

Don’t we all long to feel loved and wanted? So often in the media we read about mean girls and bullies at school, and about a lack of civility in the workplace.

Although we Little Sisters are not generally consumers of pop culture, it has struck me how often pop singers have been trying to reach out to young people with messages of affirmation — telling them that they are beautiful, perfect, and irreplaceable; that God makes no mistakes; and that they should ignite the light within and let it shine.

But God has been trying to tell us this all along! For as long as he has been communicating through human words, God has been telling us that he chose us, created us, redeemed us, and called us by name. He tells us over and over, in a multitude of ways, that he wants us for himself.

In his message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, to be celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Easter (April 29), Pope Benedict XVI writes, “The profound truth of our existence is thus contained in this surprising mystery: every creature, and in particular every human person, is the fruit of God’s thought and an act of his love, a love that is boundless, faithful, and everlasting. The discovery of this reality is what truly and profoundly changes our lives.”

Trusting in God’s plan

At the heart of every vocation is the discovery of this reality, whether it be a call to priesthood or diaconate, consecrated life, or married and family life. This experience of God’s personal, creative love is what led Jeanne to set off on her life’s path.

“God wants me for himself.” St. Jeanne understood these words in a unique and personal way, and the certainty that God was calling her to belong exclusively to him sustained her faith as she waited many years for him to fully reveal his plans for her.

Blessed John Paul II once wrote that the awakening of a vocation is the unveiling of the mystery of God. “Before it becomes an accomplished fact within an individual,” he wrote, “Before taking on the form of a choice and personal decision, a vocation refers back to another choice, a choice on the part of God, which has preceded the human choice and decision.”

Opening up to the mystery

Realizing the truth of these words makes vocational discernment so much simpler. God has it all figured out. He knows where he wants you; he has already called you and he knows the plan by heart.

It is never really a matter of constructing one’s future out of nothing or of making life-changing decisions in a vacuum.

For those who have even an inkling that God may be calling them to the priesthood or religious life, the secret is to just open up to the mystery being unveiled and then to say “YES” in a generous, wholehearted response to love.

Sr. Constance Carolyn Veit, LSP, is director of communications for the Little Sisters of the Poor in the United States.