March 13th, 2015

Discern and Honestly Respond to Your Call!

youth runningA loud assortment of children happily chase each other on the playground by the church patio, where I am enjoying beautiful music and delicious Ukrainian food: holubtsi, sauerkraut with kovbasa and Jalapeno varenykys (yes, we do have those in Texas, and I am sure we hold patent rights on the creation!) at our annual Fall Festival. Every November, the North Texas community comes together at St. Sophia parish to celebrate an event where people share and enjoy heart-warming Ukrainian food, live music, good fellowship, and a well-deserved rest.

It is the children of the parish though, who catch my attention as they run past. Their laughter, excitement and joy give evidence to the fun they are having. The cares of the world do not seem to touch their happy faces. They are running free of all the troubles, concerns and worries that most of us as adults burden under on a daily basis.

Looking at this lively and happy group of children, I wonder who will they grow up to be? I am sure in that carefree bunch we have future musicians, drivers, nurses, electricians, teachers, astronauts, doctors, accountants, clergy… So, who will they grow up to be? What will they choose to do in life?

I know that every one of them is given a unique set of skills and talents to make this world better, to make the world a holier place. As a matter of fact, I believe everyone is called to do something special, to change the world for the better, to make a difference. Everyone has a God-given purpose. Everyone has a special and unique mission. Everyone has a vocation…

At the same time, it is our responsibility to discern what our true vocation is and fulfill it to the best of our abilities. Of course, in the process of discernment we will encounter our secularized society trying to pull us one way or another. Our modern culture will try to convince us that our vocation is in reality what it considers to be our vocation, and our success will be measured by what it considers to be success.

Society and culture will try to persuade us that we have to be this or to be that; that we have to behave this way or that way; that we have to live up to their expectations. Unfortunately, at times we might even be tempted to believe it… and act accordingly. Nonetheless, the question is, with all that interference, how much room is left to hear what God really wants us to be? To discern what God really expects us to do? To discern what is our true vocation?

In a beautiful passage, the prophet Jeremiah talks about his vocation and how the Lord called him before he was even born: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” (Jer. 1:5). Similarly, God only desires what is best for us. There is no catch; there is no trick with God. He is not there to cheat us or mislead us. No, He is there to guide us, to lead us, to help us to grow in holiness and become what we were meant to be from the very beginning. Therefore, if we respond to God’s call, if we answer Him truthfully and faithfully, we will be able to find happiness and fulfillment in life. We will discover that we can only be our true selves if we follow our vocation, if we follow the path of who we were meant to be.

In addition, with a multitude of different vocations in life, some of us are called to the priesthood and religious life. I believe that especially in this day and time our church and our eparchy needs young men and women to be honest with their discernment and to seriously respond to that call. In the words of St. John Paul II: “be not afraid” to answer this call – you are gifted by God. Do not worry about things that ‘the world’ will try to convince you of and have you believe. Stay counter-cultural. Pray. Discern. Listen to God’s gentle words. Honestly respond to your call!

May God bless us and help us all in our discernment!

Fr. Pavlo Popov
Director of Vocations
St. Nicholas Eparchy of Chicago

(972) 370-4700
5600 N. Colony Blvd.
The Colony, TX  75056

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