We live in a world where self-ascribed personal traits have become more important than what we value and what those values lead us to do and as a Catholic young professional, that poses something of a problem. While this is a by-product of a larger debate, it’s an interesting flip from the idea that identity in Christ is something innate, consigning things like faith or vocation to little more than a process of ‘self-creation’. It’s the difference between the idea that God places a call on my life rather than individuals choosing a path with little regard to whether God likes it or not.
This distinction is clearer regarding a vocation such as priesthood, religious life or marriage, but what about me, the Catholic young professional living in London, or the student who didn’t get their first choice, or someone just making ends meet? What do I do when my work feels more like paying the bills than an extension of God’s calling on my life?
The fact that some of our most celebrated saints are people who have made the heroic choice of martyrdom or sacrifice, makes the search for value in the normal more complex. Of course, these examples of Catholics who have lived faithful lives are necessary, but sometimes it leaves me with a sense of hopelessness: that when I compare it to my own efforts, they lack meaning. We’re so incapable of changing the world that it’s not worth the effort. In addition, my job is tiring and saps my energy from the kingdom building work that I might like to do.
What’s the solution to this?
Well, it may vary from person to person, but here’s some general thoughts from my own experience.
Firstly, we’re still going to need to be a people who give their lives for a cause. Our society is separating from its Christian underpinnings in all sorts of strange ways so don’t be afraid to pick a good cause and be willing to fight for it.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to solve all things at once and while it’s important to uphold the faith in all things, there is tremendous value in finding the expression of it you are willing to devote yourself to and even suffer for.
Is it youth ministry and the formation of the next generation, advocacy on certain political issues, repairing families, or community service? Whatever it is, pick one and do it well. You’ll get really good at it quicker than you think and you become a ‘lessons learnt’ bank for everyone else.
Next, have a healthy life!
We need community and some refiner’s fire, so are you in an environment which challenges you to keep growing? If not, find a way to start to redress the balance. This can be by changing jobs or investing more time in a healthier community, whether that be family, friends, youth groups, socials etc.
Finally, get praying, see what God wants, and connect with him. It is our creation in God’s image that gives us, as Catholics, a sense of self and prompts us to respond to his call on our lives, rather than what we simply decide to do. God’s plans for you are always bigger and better than you can imagine.
Ben is a founding trustee of Catholic Student Network. He also volunteers for theASCENT as a mentor for young people. Professionally, he works in Central London managing projects involving the laying of submarine fibre-optic cables, after graduating from the University of Sheffield. Get in touch with Ben at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more on the Catholic Student Network, go to https://www.catholicstudentnetwork.co.uk/
Subscribe to our Newsletter
Sign up to receive our fortnightly email with our latest news, features and events…