What does it mean to say that God is calling me?

By Father Warren Sazama, S.J. Jesuit Ignatian tradition sees God as actively and personally involved in each of our lives. . . . God is engaged in a lifelong dialog with us. Our role in the dialog is to pay attention, listen, and try to respond.

Image: If we look at the major, archetypal calls in scripture, we see this pattern of dialog—between God and us—borne out.

WE OFTEN HEAR it said that we all have a vocation--but what is a vocation anyway? I've thought a lot about this question since I've been vocation director. It's not a "thing" inside of us. Nor is it a "thing" outside of us that we search to find as on a treasure hunt. Sure, it means "God's call" to us, but that's merely a translation of the Latin root vocare, "to call".

In trying to understand what a vocation truly is or what we're actually doing when we search to discover our vocation in life, it might be helpful to look at two extreme positions. As my novice director used to tell us, the truth is often somewhere in the middle.

Extreme measures

One extreme position is that God has a blueprint for each of us. To discover our vocation in life is to figure out and follow that blueprint. If we deviate from God's plan for us, we deviate from God's will, and we're lost. Most of us today see this model for understanding one's vocation in life as a bit rigid and implausible.

The other extreme is that God's call to all of us is the same--to be united with God and to use our gifts in service of our neighbor. The particulars of how we do this are up to us. In this view, God doesn't really care how we do it as long as we do it. This view makes God rather remote and unin-volved, almost uncaring. This is certainly not the God in the Judeo-Christian scripture who is personally active in our lives and our history.

A middle view comes out of my Jesuit, Ignatian tradition, which sees God as actively and personally involved in each of our lives. God speaks to us directly in our hearts, minds, and souls through our thoughts and feelings, and through our i