Blogger’s Note: This is a short reflection I wrote on Deacon Joseph Michalak’s Catechetical Institute Formative Session talk, “Vocation: The Universal Call and the End of Man.” Since I missed the session traveling to Michigan to see my folks, I was asked to write a short essay to show I had listened to it on my own.
Some years ago I wrote an essay about “the Jim in my Head,” a version of myself who is always a gentleman, always charming and courteous, always knew what to say and when to be still. That Jim, if he existed, would be loved and admired by others…but he became a source of frustration to me.
When I wrote about the Jim in my Head, he was meant to be a humorous sort of inspiration, but he became a yardstick with which to beat myself. I acted as though everyone else saw the imagined ideal and could judge to what extent I came up short. I fell into the “if-only” trap: if only I were in a different situation; had a different job; had more time and money, a different degree, etc. I finally saw the trap for what it was a year or so ago when I caught myself thinking, If only I had different gifts. The implication was that I would be a better person if God had made me better—as if the One who is all love had withheld something from me, or the One who is perfect wisdom had made a mistake.
Deacon Michalak emphasizes that the call to holiness is not only universal, but is our sole purpose—the only end worth pursuing in this life. We are each perfectly equipped to pursue this end in precisely the way God intends for us, provided we stay close to Him. This mirrors a recent comment from my spiritual director: “As long as you are open to God’s will in your life each day, you can’t screw this up.”
Why? Because He desires us to be with Him. That’s His sole reason for creating us.
I want to live an integrated life. I want my roles as husband, father, protector, provider, professional and Christian to be oriented to a single end: sainthood, for me and those I love. And I want to love everyone I encounter, so that my prayer for sainthood extends to all. It is a source of tremendous hope to me to know that I have a purpose, that I am perfectly suited to that purpose, and that God is personally invested in helping me achieve that purpose. Instead of trying to measure up to the man in my head, who doesn’t exist and never did, I can aspire to be the man in God’s heart, who is the only me who has ever existed.