Does your God-given vocation ever change, and can he give you more than one?
Dear Fr Anthony,
If God has a specific vocation for you when you are born, can that vocation ever change depending on the life you lead? What I'm trying to ask is, throughout your life is your vocation always the same, or does it change as you make different choices? On the other hand, can you have two vocations and God gives you a choice between either one? Thank you.
Your question is quite speculative, but there are things that God tells us in scripture that can help us as we try to answer it.
The best place to start may be by asking ourselves again what 'vocation' means. "Before you were conceived in your mother's womb I set you aside." This is God telling us is that he had something in mind for us when he gave us the gift of life, or rather even from before he gave us the gift. Something he wants us to be, and something he wants us to do. This is God's plan.
Vocation means 'call'. This means that as we grow up and develop, and especially as we approach the age where major choices are made in our life, God offers us his plan for us as a call and an invitation. God would like me to be a priest, so he calls me to be a priest. He would like someone else to be a missionary, so he calls him to the missionary life. How do we hear him calling us? In prayer, in our personal experience, in the circumstances of life as they develop around us, in the needs we perceive that people have..., these are all ways to discover God's voice inviting, calling us to be and to do something specific. God doesn't appear to us, but he calls us through these secondary signs. It is he who is there behind them, nevertheless.
Does our vocation change? If our vocation is God's original plan for our lives then no, it cannot change, there will always be one thing that God made us for. What does change? My understanding of the vocation can. I can join a religious order because God seems to be calling me, but a year or two down the line he might through various signs (not my feelings alone) show me his real plan is something else. The opposite happens too. Many young men who join the seminary thought for many years that they were called to marriage, and lived good lives and went to college, until one day they finally saw that God was really pointing them somewhere else, and accepted it...
Now, what happens if you have a vocation let's say to religious life, you're pretty sure, but for whatever reason you choose something else - not something bad, but a good Catholic marriage with a good man? It won't be what God originally planned, there is no way to change that, but he is merciful not vengeful. He is not going to figure out some way to get back at you. As long as you do not close your heart to him he will give you in the sacrament of matrimony all the graces you need to live it well and live up to what God wants from married Christians. He is merciful and wants us to be saved, and even after our worst faults, as long as we turn to him, he forgives us and raises us up and makes us capable of doing good things in his grace. In that sense perhaps you could talk about a 'second vocation'. The first one will always be in God's mind as his original plan, but if we go elsewhere he never stops calling us to holiness, and to our real home, heaven. Just remember that following Christ, whether in your 'first' or 'second' vocation will always mean entering by the narrow gate, so you can't talk about an 'easier' vocation.
I hope I haven't confused you.