“Do or not do. There is no try.” Or is there?

pathsIn the article “How to Discern Elements of Your Personal Vocation” by Fr. Peter Ryan, Professor of Moral Theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, he says,

With respect to future possibilities, we cannot discern whether we should do something, but only whether we should try to do it…The real possibility that we could die before we carry something out or that other things could intervene and make something impossible should warn us not to conclude that we are definitely called to do something in the future, but only that we are called to try to do it. Often enough, all God wants is the effort; and if we make the effort, we produce the results he desires.”

Takes a lot of the pressure off, doesn’t it!

Brian doesn’t have to discern whether he will marry Leslie; he only has to try to date her. Cheryl doesn’t have to discern whether she will be a religious sister; she only has to try to live in the community for a time. Tim doesn’t have to discern whether he will be a priest; he only has to apply to the seminary and see if he is accepted. Where these people end up on the other side of their decision to try is in God’s hands.

Young adults are at a point in their lives where they are discerning many things including personal vocations. Personally, I’m often frustrated with the fact that I can’t see the future, and even more frustrated when what I think will happen doesn’t end up happening. (What can I say, I’m a planner.) But as Fr. Ryan says, our effort to try is often what God desires as it shows faith and hope. God wants us to say to him, “I don’t know where this path will lead, but Yes Lord, I’m going to follow you anyway.” We can act within these uncertainties saying and believing, Thy Will be done.

3 Replies to ““Do or not do. There is no try.” Or is there?”

  1. Excellent Post. I remember when I first felt called to the priesthood. I was dating a young lady at the time and had no intention of breaking her heart. I simply told God, if you want me to be a priest you’re going to have to resolve this. So, long story short, the relationship cooled in a natural sort of way and I, though sad at the breakup saw an open door. But there too, I went to the seminary not absolutely sure about priesthood, only that I was willing to go and train, be formed and continue to discern with the Church. My first year went poorly but I hung in there one extra year and the path seemed clear. In 1988 I was ordained a deacon, in 1989 a priest and I haven’t looked back or regretted a thing. But you are right, all we can do is take the next best step…get out there and try. It is a great relief knowing that we don’t have to know or intend everything all at once, just take the next step in discernment.

  2. I had Fr. Ryan as a spiritual director for almost three years, and he has a wealth of insights. In fact, I have read the full text of this article, and it gives very good insights into vocation discernment. One great part of this is the realization that a vocation is a relationship, even the priestly vocation. For you may feel called to be a priest, but your local bishop has to feel the same way about your calling, or lack thereof. If you apply to the seminary, and get rejected, it may be perhaps that you aren’t called to be a priest. The same thing goes for someone wanting to get married. You may want to marry the other person, but it is up to the other person whether they want to marry you. Vocations are always a two way road. I would recommend this article to anybody struggling to find their vocation in life. God bless.

  3. Enjoyed reading your articles.

    To add,
    Now You Can Stop Your Break Up, Divorce or Lovers Rejection…Even If Your Situation Seems Hopeless!

Comments are closed.