Catching the rhythm of God’s voice

Today in our Congregation and in the Pauline Family, we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the return home to God of Mother M. Scholastica Rivata, our first sister Disciple of the Divine Master. Reflecting on her life and her discipleship has given me much food for thought. She truly was in tune with the voice of the Divine Master,seeking to do his will in all things. An early wake-up call from the birds and her life inspire these humble thoughts below!

"What does it mean to have a vocation? Is a vocation a job, a career, a way of life? What does money have to do with it? Have you often asked yourself- at twenty, thirty, forty, sixty- what am I going to do with the rest of my life? You’re not alone. Understanding vocation is the key to understanding life, not in the future but here and now. Understanding vocation is the key to living a meaningful life, the key to fulfilment on life’s journey.  For Christians, vocation is the invitation to follow Jesus. “Come after me”, he said, in the beginning of the Gospel of Mark (1:17), an invitation to discipleship that, as well as being an assent of the heart, demands an uncompromising break with ‘business as usual’. Discerning one’s vocation is a life-long process, requiring a heart finely tuned to the voice of God. It suggests the long term task of matching the cadence of one’s being to the rhythm of God’s language.

For many of us, discerning vocation is about establishing or nurturing right relationships-within and around our families, communities and places of work. However there is another place where these relationships are found: in friendship. Friendship is a source of renewal and joy, a source of courage, a source of revolutionary accompaniment, a place of accountability and a place to meet God. True friendship nourishes our capacity to move through suffering. It is a place where grief is made bearable and where we find the strength to even face change and death even when it seems that this is not possible. True friendship fills us with a desire for the good. True friendship is a vocation.

How do we catch the rhythm of God’s voice? The first words of the Prologue of the Rule of St. Benedict read: “Hear and heed, my child, the voice of the Master”. The disciple must listen with an open heart to the voice of the One who desires to teach so much.Sometimes we hear it deep in our own souls, at other times, through a conversation of the heart with another person, or through discernment in community; or in something we read or observe about life in general. To understand our vocation we need to listen to that ‘still, small voice’ within us. God is whispering to us all the time about the good, the happiness to which we are called but it can be hard to hear God’s voice because we are too distracted, too overwhelmed with internal and external noise.

The challenge and opportunity before us all is to choose carefully where we plant our feet while listening for the rhythm of God’s call. Vocation, obviously is lived in a wide variety of ways; there are many pathways even in one faithful life, but the first step is a challenging one: to create the space in our lives to listen and to place ourselves in those situations where we can hear. By stopping to let the land of our lives lie fallow, by nurturing friendships, by moving to the margins, by ensconcing ourselves in communities and parishes committed to faithful discipleship, by living in harmony with the rest of creation, perhaps, just perhaps, we will catch the cadence of God’s voice and hear the call or calls that are ours."