I have come to the realization that my life right now is like Advent. Just like this season of the liturgical year this season in my life is a time of waiting and preparation. Advent prepares us for Jesus’ birth and my life right now is preparing me for my vocation. As the world waited for Christmas, I wait for the day when I will know God’s will for my life.
But I’m not there yet. Just as we still have a few more days to go before Christmas, I have time to go before I discern what God has planned for my life (unless he decides to conk me over the head tomorrow and tell me what I’m supposed to do). And so I wait. However, Advent isn’t just about waiting; it’s also about preparing. In the same way that Advent prepares us to celebrate Christmas, so I should let this season of my life prepare me for my vocation.
The first and foremost way to do this, is through strengthening my relationship with God. Prayer plays a key role in this as do the sacraments, specifically Mass and Confession. Sound familiar? In Advent aren’t we supposed to “Prepare the Way”? So shouldn’t I also prepare the way for my vocation? Shouldn’t I be preparing myself as a Christian for whatever God asks of me? No matter where I’m called, a strong prayer life is essential and will help me discern.
While we return deeper to God, prepare our hearts, and wait with longing for the joy we want to experience, we must also acknowledge that God is with us, always. He never leaves. He knows what He’s doing. He knew exactly when and where He would come into the world. And He knows exactly when and where He will reveal our vocations to us.
In the mean time, we wait and we prepare and we contemplate. The Bible tells us how Mary contemplated what she experienced. We are told that when the angel Gabriel greeted her she “pondered” (Lk 1:29) what it could mean. After the shepherds visited “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Lk 2:19). In my experience, discernment requires contemplation. We ask ourselves “what does God want me to do?” “what are my strengths?” “how can I best serve?” Mary also teaches us that discernment doesn’t end simply because we discover our Vocation in life. After all, seeking His will in every moment is sanctity.We will always be learning more and more what is the will of God.
For many of us though, the big question right now is whether we are called to marriage, single life, or religious life. Perhaps, like me, your Advent isn’t over yet. The liturgical season may be drawing to a close but this season of our lives may have some time left yet. That may sound frightening, but all it means is that we have more time to prepare for the great journey ahead. Christmas is the goal and celebration for Advent. Our vocation is a goal of our discernment but it’s our eventual goal of Heaven that is the most important. In that way, our whole lives are an Advent preparing us for the joy of Heaven.