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May 7, 2006
We Are Called. . .This weekend we celebrate the annual National Day of Prayer for Vocations. This event has been in existence for the past 40 years. Unless we are faithful adherents to papal communication, we probably don’t hear too much about this important Day. With all the turmoil in the church these days, it would probably be good to take a few moments to reflect on this topic.
Some 40 years ago the word vocation immediately brought to mind the notion that a young man or woman had been called to the priesthood or to the Consecrated Life. Those of us who were brought up before Vatican II grew up hearing the expression, he/she has a vocation. There was never any question or debate. Everyone knew what that meant. No one ever said, “What kind of vocation or a vocation to what?” It was simply understood.
Since Vatican II, the word Vocation has taken on a much broader definition. The Vatican Council took the time to return to the root of the word and took the pains to apply it justly to all Christians. The word Vocation has a Latin root, i.e., vocare, which simply means to Call. The next question for the Council was , “A Calling to and for What?” Since tradition had been so insistent on leading Christians to believe that a calling was for the privileged few, it was quite a challenge for the bishops to redirect this frame of mind in the universal church.
When we say we pray for vocations today, what are we really saying? Do we mean we want more priests to run our parishes? Perhaps. Do we mean we want more religious to teach and nurse and care for the sick? Perhaps. After all, we are bound to have our own agenda even in church affairs. The real purpose of the day however, is to ask God to guide the young and the not so young in their decision making in life.
As Catholic Christians, we are all called to Holiness. We become Holy when we are connected or joined to God who is the Holy One. Holiness can only happen when we are faithful to God’s calling for us. We were all created as individuals with certain talents, differing degrees of energy, passion and intelligence as well as varying interests. No combination of the above makes us better or worse. We are simply unique and ripe for God’s call to happiness and holiness.
When we are aware of God’s call ( or guided toward this awareness by perceptive and loving parents or mentors), we come to follow a path that is best for us and for the entire people of God. For the greater majority, there is a call to a faithful and common life with a loving spouse. This call is not easy but for those who are called, holiness will ensue. For others, there is a call to the single life, committed to the needs of others. This life can be lived fully committed to the work of the church as in Lay Ministry or it can be lived fully committed to the love of others in the normal, day to day events of our routine lives. And yet for others, there is a call for full commitment to the work of the church in a visible and “on call” manner. This calling refers to men called to the priesthood and to both men and women called to the religious/consecrated life.When we miss the opportunity to be faithful to our calling we are often frustrated, unsettled and unhappy.
Let us Pray for the Vocations of all who are searching for meaning on journey of life!
Lorette P. Nault