Introducing Calling & Discernment

Vocation is the heart of the Christian life. We believe people are created for relationship with God who calls to us all life long and invites our creative response. Through our years of study, research, and reflection on vocation in the Collegeville Institute Seminars, we have seen transformations happen when individuals and communities come to see their lives as part of God’s purposes in the world. We believe that rediscovering vocation—as both the general calling to discipleship shared by Christians and our particular callings (to people, places, and work)—can help revitalize the local church for its mission in the world. Check out materials below created to introduce congregations to the language of calling and movements of discernment.

Language of Calling

In her book The Stories We Live: Finding God’s Calling All Around Us, Kathleen A. Cahalan reframes vocation through eight prepositions — by, to, as, from, for, through, in, and within — that connect who we are with what we do. Cahalan argues, “Prepositions opened out a richer, more complex and dynamic way of understanding my life — my relationships, roles, gifts, and circumstances — in a new way.” Many CCI partner congregations used the preposition framework to introduce their communities to the concept of vocation.

“Beyond traditional understandings of vocation as a static noun, something we receive once in our life, the prepositions of calling open up callings as multiple, dynamic, and changing over time.”

Kathleen A. Cahalan

Calling Across the Lifespan

We believe God calls people across the lifespan. Each season brings new challenges and possibilities. Exploring vocation across the lifespan raising intriguing questions:

  • How do our callings change as we grow?
  • What does it mean that God calls us in relationship to the whole of our lives (including our work, relationships, and identity) all life long?
  • What difference does it make to understand Christian vocation not only from the questions of young adulthood but also from the play of children, the transitions of late adulthood, and the middle years of multiple responsibilities?

Check out the CCI Call & Respond e-newsletter for more research and resources on callings at different stages of the lifespan.

Movements of Discernment

Discernment is the spiritual practice of vocation. Practiced as a way of life, discernment draws people into deeper relationship with God and helps us to stay focused on God’s callings in our lives. Kathleen A. Cahalan lays out four movements crucial to discernment:

  • Listening
  • Seeking
  • Waiting
  • Choosing

Click here for teaching videos and reflection questions on each movement.

Model for Discerning Vocations

Jane Patterson developed the vocation circle, a practical, wholistic way to think about vocations. The vocation circle enables people to recognize something that is normally just an idea:

  • that we are all deeply connected
  • that the creation is a single fabric composed of the steady warp of God’s love continuously interacting with the weft of our callings as we trace the patterns of divine grace

Teaching video to come.