Today is commonly called "Spy Wednesday," in reference to Judas. (The Gospel reading in the Lectionary tells the story of Judas going to the high priests and promising Jesus in exchange for thirty pieces of silver.)
A part of me always feels kind of sorry for Judas. Didn't he know better? And if he didn't, couldn't he have asked Jesus for forgiveness, rather than despair. It's a sorry business, for sure.
The thing is, all of us, at one point or another, will face a similar crossroads. On one side will be a way out, and on the other side will be the straight and narrow. For many of us, we will face that crossroads again and again. The temptation is always there to take the easy way out, to do what is safe and comfortable, you know?
But if we want to live out our vocations - truly live them out - we have to pick that straight and narrow, over and over again. And if we don't, we have to seek grace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. I think that's the key right there - we can't do this alone. We need grace!
As we come to the end of our 40 days for Lent, I hope you've been inspired to take serious steps to discern your vocation, and if you have already committed to your vocation, to live it out more fully. Here are my five favorite tips for staying committed to your vocation or the discernment of one:
Have an accountability partner.
If it's just "you and God," it's easy to get lazy about things. But, your vocation isn't just about you - it's about the whole Church. What you do or don't do when it comes to your vocation affects everyone. So, have a friend (or spouse) who you can be accountable to. When you are tempted to stop trying, or to choose the easy instead of the straight and narrow - take it to your accountability partner. He/she will help encourage you to do what is right, even when it may be hard!
Find a spiritual director or regular Confessor.
I am desperately in need of this right now, but I can tell you that having a spiritual director and a regular Confessor was invaluable during my discernment process. The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways, and sometimes you need to have someone in your life who can help you see the ways He is at work in your own vocation journey.
Receive the Sacraments...frequently!
Obviously, get to Mass and receive Jesus in the Eucharist as frequently as you can. How can you fall in love with someone you don't know? Regardless of what your vocation is, you need to be in love with Jesus in order to live it out fully. BUT also go to Confession regularly. I remember hearing at some point that Pope St. John Paul II recommended a bare minimum of once a month. He went way more frequently (maybe every day?), as did other saints. Confession isn't just a duty that you tend to when you absolutely have to - it's an opportunity to receive a wealth of graces. It's an opportunity to recognize that all of our sins keep us from God, even the "smaller ones." It's an opportunity to grow in that relationship with our God, that we may one day be saints.
Form the habit of a disciplined prayer routine.
"Oh, I can never find the time to pray!" Or, "I just pray throughout the day, whenever I can!" I think those are the two most frequent excuses for the lack of a prayer routine. I know...because I've been there myself! But now I have a regular prayer routine, and it makes a world of difference. A regular prayer routine takes discipline, but it is good to have discipline in your life! I personally love the Liturgy of the Hours, because then my prayer routine - content and times to pray - are already picked out for me. Some people are dedicated to a Morning Offering, the Angelus, and a Rosary. Do whatever floats your boat but keep in mind two things. First, see if there's a way that you can have multiple set times of prayer throughout the day, with set prayers. It doesn't have to be major prayers, but committing to that routine is key. Second, don't just do "whatever" - pick a structured prayer and stick to it! You can have a time or times during the day to just freely talk to God, too, but the structured prayer (especially if it involves Scripture) will help you to listen to God better.
Offer it up.
This kind of goes hand in hand with having a disciplined prayer routine. Faithfully living out a vocation is not for the faint of heart! It really does take a lot of discipline and self-sacrifice. It helps to get in the habit of lovingly offering up little things throughout the day. Shower water a bit too chilly? Offer it up in love for someone. Dinner not taste as good as you hoped it would? Offer it up. Wake up 5 minutes earlier than usual. Offer it up. There are so many opportunities throughout the day to offer things up in love to God!
Tomorrow the Triduum begins! I'm going to log off during that time, but I'll have scheduled posts...so check back if you'd like!
Please continue to pray for vocations with us!
O God, Father of all Mercies,
Provider of a bountiful Harvest,
Provider of a bountiful Harvest,
send Your Graces upon those
You have called to gather the fruits of Your labor;
preserve and strengthen them in their lifelong service of you.
Open the hearts of Your children
that they may discern Your Holy Will;
inspire in them a love and desire to surrender themselves
to serving others in the name of Your son, Jesus Christ.
Teach all Your faithful to follow their respective paths in life
guided by Your Divine Word and Truth.
Through the intercession of the Most Blessed Virgin Mary,
all the Angels, and Saints, humbly hear our prayers
and grant Your Church's needs, through Christ, our Lord. Amen. (source)