Lent 2013, XIX

XIX. And now I get to the question that has been nagging at
me since I started writing this series. It is the question that prompted this
questioning in the first place: How do I walk that line? What is the proper
balance between the ordinary and the Lenten in my day to day life, and in my
choice of vocation? Even to say, “Choice of vocation” is almost a contradiction
in terms, in the strict etymological sense of the words. After all, how can I
in any sense at all “choose” where God is going to call me? The word vocation
means “call” and the call is entirely at the discretion of the One who calls,
is it not? If I look at it that way I cannot choose my vocation at all, but
only my response. I’m not going to lie, that is an oppressive thought. It
crushes my spirit just entertaining the notion that God has laid out a path for
me and is inexorably calling me to it, and my only choice is to surrender or
shirk that responsibility. But it truly is a fearsome, burdensome thought. The
feeling is very intense, a mixture of doubt (how can I ever know what He
wants?) fear (What if He wants me to do something I don’t want to do?) shame (I
may not want to do what He wants. I am not holy, and never can be) and finally
oppression (I don’t have a choice in the matter. I can never be free.)


  1. Frances, I wasn't going to comment but I'm glad you did… I was also thinking “He calls gently.” You are right. God doesn't force, He invites.

    However, it certainly feels as if a choice between two goods is more difficult than a choice between clear good and evil. It is when you can take a step back and realize the joy in having good options, if you can find no other solace at that time.


  2. This post hits close to home, for I can completely related to those feelings (doubt, fear, shame, and oppression) that you mentioned. In many ways you are totally right, “choice of vocation” is a contradiction in terms. Yet, we have that ‘choice’ since we all have free will… the ability to do God’s will and the ability to reject it. The choosing is in our response, as you mentioned, but also in our living out our lives. I think that if we are trying to live out our lives loving God and trying to do His will, He will call us to challenging ‘vocations’ but not something that we don’t want to do. It is all entirely connected, if we are trying to love God firstly…. St. Augustine said: “Love God and do what you will”……. If we truly love God we will be open to His will, and joyfully respond/want to do whatever he calls us to.

    On another note, choice and freedom are not synonymous. Just because we have a choice doesn’t mean that we are free (you can be at gunpoint and be given two different choices, but your response is never free). God has given us freedom, we will always have the choice, but that choice is sometimes between a clear good and evil and sometimes two goods, but there is still a point where one good is better for us. Yes, we have choice… it will always be a call, never at gunpoint. God does not force us to do something we don’t want to do, He calls gently. It says in Psalm 37: Delight in the Lord, and he will give thee the requests of thy heart. I have always thought that part of the way that we hear the call of God is through an attraction toward something/some vocation.

    I am interested in the next few posts and your discussions there. How do we walk the line?

    God bless,


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