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Chosen and called Print
Guest column
Thursday, Nov. 02, 2017 -- 12:00 AM
Fr.Gregory Ihm

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart . . ." (Jer. 1:5).


Each person is willed by God to be, which is another way of saying that we have been chosen to exist.

Not only have we been chosen to exist, we have been chosen to exist in God. When we fell into sin, God chose to redeem us and make us a new creation (Eph. 2:1-7). He made us a new creation through His Son's life, death, and resurrection, the source of the Church's saving acts.

The beginning of any person's vocational journey is the discovery that they have been chosen by God before they did anything to deserve His love. It is a journey of discovering their true identity in the will of God.

A person's true identity is the bedrock or foundation to their activity and is more important than their activity. For example: It is better to BE Catholic than it is to do Catholic activity; someone who acknowledges themselves as a redeemed sinner will act differently, especially in the face of failure, than someone who is unaware of their sin and God's will to redeem them.

Through the discovery of being chosen by God, we come to know God's goodness and acknowledge true human dignity as coming from God. Upon the discovery of our dignity, not only as human beings but sinners who are worthy of redemption, I think we have to ask: What must I do with the gift of life I've been given?

". . . I appointed you as a prophet to the nations" (Jer. 1:5).


We believe that the Lord is personal, knowable, and willing to aide us in achieving the end for which we were made, so He invites us to make a response to the good that He has begun in us.

This is the call to come and follow Him, so that He may teach us how to give ourselves as a gift to others. He aides us in making a more perfect gift of self, self as conformed to Christ, which is the only proper response to such a great gift of being redeemed.

Our identity of being a new creation in Christ must be maintained if we are going to make a proper response to the Lord for all the good He has begun in us, and this requires participation in the sacraments of the Church and daily prayer.

This kind of call requires a little more time to respond than maybe a phone conversation, but like a phone conversation, the one responding to the call is not dictating the conversation -- the one calling is the one that has the purpose and end in mind for which they are calling.

Our part in the call is to stay engaged in the conversation, and God will guide the conversation/response to the proper end for which we were created.

If a person's identity is truly rooted in the goodness of God, then a person in their response isn't worried about their own fulfillment, but rather looking to bring the goodness of God to others. They desire to help others discover their identity in Christ. This is where the Lord unites us more closely to Himself by inviting us to give our life, to lose our life, so that others might have life.

A person's discovery of their identity in Christ and God's call to give their life as a gift for others go hand in hand -- they don't necessarily develop chronologically when thinking about vocational discernment.

If anything, they are cyclical, because we are constantly discovering more deeply our identity in Christ and learning how to more perfectly give ourselves as a gift to others.

St. John Paul II says that in order to know our identity, we have to make a gift of self, so they perfect each other. On the level of importance, being/essence precedes actions/accidents, so vocationally it is important to discover who you are in Christ, so as to make your life a gift that is given.

Fr. Gregory Ihm is the director of vocations for the Diocese of Madison.