It can be said that my vocation was kindled by God at an early age. I longed to find meaning in life when I witnessed how many people were poor, sick, and suffering in the village where I grew up. This inspiration was continually nourished in joy and peace every time I participated in evening prayer with my family, every morning at Mass, and with my associations with the choirs and catechists. The call was also fostered by the experience of God’s love for me, expressed through the love of my parents and the people around me. It was further strengthened by my experience doing apostolic work with my family, happy experiences with friends in our studies, and their comfort in times of grief
The call became clearer but also underwent a period of tension during my university life. At that time, I joined a Catholic students group and soon learned how to pray the Word of God and the Spiritual Exercises. Many times, I cried during my nightly prayer (I used to pray the Bible every night, and wake up early the next morning). I heard the call of God so clearly that I would sometimes feel scared, especially when I heard the Gospels about the Lord calling the disciples, or when the Lord sent them to preach, or when the Lord said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” (Lk 10:2) I vividly remember the times when I hid behind the pillar, literally, in the choir to avoid seeing the priest reading the Gospel because it was as if he was reading it to me, only me. The reason I struggled and was somewhat “scared” was because, at that time, I had concerns about my weakness, unworthiness, and responsibility to my family.
The decisive moment must come, but first, I had to go through the experience of hearing the call, struggling with the many choices during the four years at university, the nightly prayers, and especially the Spiritual Exercises, which was offered in summer. I had decided to find work after graduation, but the decision left my heart feeling a great loss. A disturbance and emptiness filled my soul. It made me very uneasy, so I decided to wait and join the Spiritual Exercises for students that was to take place a few days later.
I did the Spiritual Exercises having as my only desire peace of mind. God answered and enlightened me so I could discern that a vocation is a “gift” given by God not because of human holiness. At the same time, I realised God’s providential hand in my family. I finally decided to pursue my vocation in peace. Immediately after the Spiritual Exercises, I entered the Society of Jesus. I chose the Jesuits because I knew them and was attracted to their life of prayer and service, with the principle of “finding God in all things”. Furthermore, I personally encountered God in the Spiritual Exercises, a hallmark of the Society of Jesus.
That is how my vocation started and continues to grow in the stages of my formation in the Society. In particular, I recall, the happiness I felt when contemplating the Risen Lord appearing to Our Lady during the 30-day Spiritual Exercises at the novitiate. It was an enlightening experience of finding man’s meaning. Up to now, after more than 10 years in the Society, I thank God for the desire he inspired in my heart from the very beginning. I continue to walk and become more and more convinced of God’s call, guidance, and providential love.
Vietnamese Jesuit Dominic Do Hung Dinh SJ was recently ordained deacon along with one other Vietnamese scholastic in the chapel of St Joseph Jesuit Scholasticate in Ho Chi Min City, Vietnam.