Column: No superpowers, no shortcuts

by Father Mitchel Zimmerman

A popular icebreaker with youth calls for everyone to share what superpower they most desire to possess: invisibility; X-ray vision; the ability to fly. Kids can get pretty creative, too, making up new superpowers as the icebreaker goes along.

A vocation director needs one superpower in particular — the infallible discernment of God’s will for others. But I have yet to meet a vocation director who has this superpower, this particular gift of the Holy Spirit.

I suggest vocations to young people in our archdiocese all the time. I try
to help them recognize and follow the signs the Lord is giving them. Yet I can never know for sure what God’s will is for a particular person. I do not have this superpower. I am a vocation director, who ultimately does not direct anyone’s vocation, but points them toward the Lord Jesus himself, who is the real vocation director for each one of us.

Even if Archbishop Naumann had the superpower of infallible discernment of God’s will for others to give me, after two-plus years in the vocation office, I have to say I might turn the gift down.

Having superpowers and the ability to take shortcuts would be great, don’t get me wrong. But so is the adventure of looking for clues and making ourselves more ready interiorly for whatever it is that God is calling us to.

A lot of people want to receive their vocation like Mary did, from the angel Gabriel himself, but the reality is that we are not like Mary. We are neither fully ready nor open. It is quite a journey for most of us to become like Mary — ready for the visit of an angel.

I could save a lot of time — and a lot of work — if I could look over a sea of our young people and be able to tell right away who is called to be a priest or a Sister. Yet it is also a great joy to accompany our young people as their faith and generosity are stretched by their search for God’s will.

Many of our young people express exasperation at not having the superpower of knowing God’s will for them exactly. I tell them that receiving their vocation from God is always going to involve a leap of faith . . . and it should. Our vocation is never something that we can capture or control. God’s will goes ahead of us, drawing out the very best of our faith, hope and love.

In the area of vocations, it is better for us to do things the hard way: no superpowers, no shortcuts.

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