As monks we are keenly aware of the call to mission. Certainly there are different ideas about this call: for example, some seem to think of their life vocation as something written in stone, inscribed from all eternity in the Mind of God in Heaven, and that their job in discernment is simply to discover and live it out what that undeviating, eternal intention is, whether this be the priesthood, religious consecration, monasticism, marriage & family life, etc.
I would like to suggest that vocation is something more dynamic than that. I suggest that it is a free and active cooperation with God, a living participation in which we ourselves play an important role in working with God to determine how we will live out our Christian mission in life. God makes us His co-workers. I compare Vocation discernment to creating a beautiful work of art: all the materials needed are there before us: our own particular canvas (life situation); palette of colors (talents), brushes (various life skills) and other creative tools that are uniquely our own, both those we were born with and those we have acquired through our life journey thus far. As any artist or creative person knows, however, there are a great many different ways and possible options he might go about utilizing these materials to make a beautiful work of art: One can go this way or that in terms of styles, subjects, color combinations, layouts, etc. and still arrive at something magnificent. Of course it is also possible to take less care and end up with something less worthy or shoddy.
All of this is to underline the essentially important point that vocation discernment involves not merely a passive searching for God’s Will but an active and eager participation with God to decide how we will serve the Coming of His Kingdom. Yes, deciding on our life’s mission with Him demands of us active creativity, responsibility and generosity! The vocation question must inevitably include: How do we want to serve; How do we want contribute to His Reign; How do we want to cooperate with Jesus in the building up of His Kingdom?