By Brigid Hoagland, Catholic Charities Volunteer, (Benedictine College ’19)
Photo Courtesy of Reverb Culture.
In imitation of the Blessed Mother, we are all called to make our own fiat and hand our lives over to God in service. We were each handcrafted with a particular set of gift and talents so that we could actively play a role in God’s plan and it is up to us to submit to His will above our own. Just as Mary said yes to the angel Gabriel, we are called to say yes when the Lord asks us to serve Him. However, we sometimes don’t know how to start engaging in service. We know we are called to serve God in a particular way, but often times we aren’t sure where to start. Saying “yes” to God isn’t a one-time response, it is a process that takes a lot of discernment. How do you know where your gifts could be utilized? Which service opportunities are available? How do you get involved with different charities?
Here are some tips on the steps to saying “yes” that can help you properly respond to God’s call to serve.
- Discernment: First, it is crucial that we take time for discernment. Through discernment, we can better understand the source of a call and attempt to more clearly hear God’s voice. It is a difficult task to seek a clear picture of God’s plan, but God gives us grace so that we can discover His will for our lives if we take the time to communicate with Him and learn from Him. If we want to understand our mission in life, it is important that we spend time in communication with God.
Through prayer, we can better recognize what the Lord is doing in our lives and let Him lead us in the right direction.
- Transformation: Before we are ready to go out and serve, we must know how to love. If we want to love, we must learn from Love incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ. When we serve, we are called to share Christ’s love with others. We are unable to do this if we have not first experienced the Lord’s love in our own lives. Therefore, we must be changed by the Lord’s radical love. We need to let Christ fill us with His love so that we are at the point of overflowing and only then can we go out and let that love overflow into the lives of the people we serve. Before we can go out and love others, we must recognize that we are loved. If we are not fulfilled by God’s love, then we will be seeking to be loved through the recognition and praise of others. And, if we don’t let the Lord reveal our worth to us, we might think that we don’t have any gifts or talents to offer. Remain in Christ’s love and let Him reveal your worth and inherent gifts.
Do not concern yourself with how others view your service. Stay focused on your mission, entrusted to you by God Himself, and step out with the courage to serve as He wishes.
- Study: When we serve, it is necessary that we love with Christ’s love and learn how to love according to His example. Jesus set the standard of love we are called to follow. By looking at the Gospels, we can get a better grasp on how to love others as Christ did. He provides a clear example of how we are meant to reach out and serve the poor, vulnerable, and rejected members of society. We are all called to imitate Christ in the way we love others. John 13:35 says,
“This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Enter Christ’s school of love so that you can learn how to love as Christ does and walk in love alongside the Lord as you serve His face in the faces of others.
- Inventory: In Gaudium et Spes, Pope John Paul II said, “Man cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of self.” We were given certain gifts and these gifts were made to be given away. Make a list of your talents to that it can be easier for you to find an outlet to serve that fits your skill sets. When making a checklist inventory of your gifts and talents, think of your skills and how you can best help a charity. Maybe you have great leadership skills, a passion for event planning, or a knack for fundraising. The Church would love to tap into what you have to offer. Luke 12:48 says, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” God has called you to use your gifts for His glory and therefore has given you a great responsibility to play an active role in His plan.
How will you respond to His call and use the gifts entrusted to you?
- Inspiration: Get inspired by the lives of the saints and great people. Read about people who lived their lives in service to God and discover how they used their gifts and talents to fulfill their mission on earth. Their witness will challenge you to live with the same intensity and passion as they did. They said yes to the Lord’s plan in their lives and let Him use their gifts and talents for His glory. Look to them as an example and as encouragement to use your skill sets to better the lives of others.
Read about a saint that inspires you into action.
- Action Plan: To solidify your “yes”, create an action plan to get involved. Plan a meeting with the Director of Volunteers at Catholic Charities or another agency to discuss your interests and experience and learn about opportunities to serve. Think about your network and look into opportunities through your parish and your community to get involved in service. If you are too busy to sign up for something on a weekly basis, you can consider hosting a two-hour service project for one of our ministries.
In addition, be prepared for impromptu asks for help from people on the streets and people in your own family!
Say “yes” to God’s call and do not be afraid. Christ desires for us to bring Him into the lives of others so that He can transform their lives. Acts 21:24 says, “Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the gospel of God’s grace.” Remain with Christ and let Him guide you to an outlet for service. Then, say “yes” to your call to serve and embrace your mission to bring Christ’s love in the life of another.
The world needs Christ, say “yes” so that others can meet Him through you.
Interested in meeting with our Director of Volunteers to learn how you can serve your communitiy? Email Sally O’Dwyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.