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23 | Finding Meaning and Purpose: Retirement and Midlife

Meaning and purpose are big themes in transition. 

Transitions like RETIREMENT, EMPTY NEST, or other WAKE-UP call you might have. 

Where’s the excitement, meaning, purpose, discomfort, and discernment kicking in? 

Where’s the expediency, fear, super cautious, or momentum kicking in? 

We had a season on TRANSITIONS, starting at episode 2.

John Paul II, in Christifideles Laici, at 58, wrote “The fundamental objective of the formation of the lay faithful is an ever-clearer discovery of one’s vocation and the ever-greater willingness to live it so as to fulfill one’s mission… God calls me and sends me forth as a laborer in his vineyard. He calls me and sends me forth to work for the coming of his Kingdom in history.” 

Transitions are a time for discernment. Who am I now? What am I called to, now? How can I use my inclinations, desires, circumstances, strengths, talents, desires, and inclinations to work out my new purpose and meaning in God’s kingdom? 

Did you catch that inclinations and desires are on that list twice? 

That’s because we often think those don’t matter when it comes to “spiritual” things like “discernment.” We can forget that we are embodied persons and the “spiritual” stuff is for the whole person and not just out “there” somewhere. 

Momentum, complacency, or strongly ingrained enculturation can be driving the bus for us, and instead of us, living out our vocation, being in charge. Sometimes our desire for security and predictability holds us back from what God has in mind for us, or at least what he COULD have in mind for us if we have an ever-greater willingness to live so as to fulfill one’s mission. 

Meaning and purpose naturally show up as QUESTIONS during times of transition. Our roles change, and how we spend our time changes. So naturally, we look for new meaning and purpose. Having a good transition, in fact, will bring these issues up to the surface. 

A key question in a big life transition is: Am I discerning my possibilities and vocation in God’s kingdom? Or am I letting momentum, fear, other peoples’ plans, etc., etc., etc. drive the bus of my life? 

One of the questions I ask myself (Curtis) is: How does my Catholic faith show up in my choices, compared to how I would be living out my middle-class values anyways? 

Find the National Catholic Register article at:


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