Thursday, January 12, 2012

Call and Answer

Due to the unusually curtailed liturgical calendar to close out Christmas -- i.e. Epiphany and Baptism of the Lord on consecutive days -- the Stateside church's customary opening duo of annual themed weeks are happening concurrently as opposed to back-to-back.

As previously noted, the first of these is National Migration Week, which invariably trails Epiphany to evoke the traveling Magi. Yet the other -- by no means less important -- is Vocations Awareness Week, always launched from the Baptism feast to underscore how, whatever it might be, one's "project of God" in life is the full fruit of the baptismal call in each of us.

At first glance, of course, these initially break down into states of life. Yet even they don't come close to fleshing out the richness of the tapestry of calls, works, and ways to serve... because, well, there are as many of those as the number of us, and Lord knows how many of them remain to be discovered or reach their fullest potential for the good and life of the whole.

So along those lines -- in the hope of affirming the calls already found, and maybe even nudging along one or two still to come to the fore -- here's a favorite piece written for this week from the "Best of" collection....

For what it's worth, hope it helps.

* * *
Friends, again I ask you, what about today? What are you seeking? What is God whispering to you? The hope which never disappoints is Jesus Christ. The saints show us the selfless love of his way. As disciples of Christ, their extraordinary journeys unfolded within the community of hope, which is the Church. It is from within the Church that you too will find the courage and support to walk the way of the Lord.

Nourished by personal prayer, prompted in silence, shaped by the Church’s liturgy you will discover the particular vocation God has for you. Embrace it with joy. You are Christ’s disciples today. Shine his light upon this great city and beyond. Show the world the reason for the hope that resonates within you. Tell others about the truth that sets you free.
--Pope Benedict XVI
Greeting to Young People
St Joseph's Seminary, Dunwoodie
New York
19 April 2008

As some might know, this is National Vocation Awareness Week. And hopefully it isn't news to anyone, but this is of universal importance to all of us as every single one of you has a vocation.

Now, don't panic: this doesn't mean you're to drop everything and make for the nearest seminary or convent. If that's what you're feeling called to do, though, then go for it(!), thanks for your "yes"(!) and know you've got all our prayers and support!

For somewhere around 99% of this Church, however, our vocation lies elsewhere. These tend to be categorized but, in reality, that's only the beginning; indeed, the easy part.

Truth be told, there are as many wildly diverse, desperately needed vocations out there as there are the number of us -- and whatever form it might take, what you (yes, YOU!) are called to do, the gift you've got to share, is something no one else can bring to life as well or as fully as you can.

And, thing is, much as some might not realize it, think it too crazy or needless or (worst of all) try and fight these movements of the Spirit, try as you might, the call is in you -- and it's there for a reason.

Whatever it might be, the signs are universal: it's what makes you burn, brings you joy, makes life good, gets you up in the morning (sometimes keeps you awake in the night, too) and -- even with the knowledge that it'll never be fully perfect nor without its sufferings, burdens and trials -- you really can't see yourself doing any other thing with your days and giving it everything you've got.

In a nutshell, your call is that one thing above the rest which makes you happy and gives life to you and others. You'll know it simply by finding it and knowing you can't be anywhere else -- and in some cases, even now, even if you don't think you know or have found it, somewhere down deep inside, it's already there and maybe just needs a little extra figuring out.

Many of us have been blessed to find this "project of God" in our lives, summon up the courage to try and -- warts, limitations, sins and all -- start down the path. Something seems to say, though, that just as many of us either haven't found it or, for one reason or another, are holding back from it.

For those of the latter bunch, a simple word of advice from one who's been there: whatever the call is, whatever's keeping you from moving with it, don't be afraid -- just do it, because you never know what'll happen until you let it fly... and in case you could use an example of what can come to pass when you do, well, you're reading this right now, aren't you?

So, friends, "what about today? What are you seeking? What is God whispering to you?"

As with every other good thing, only in the silence can we truly hear and know its answer, and only then can we begin to move closer to the place we each belong.

"What are you seeking? What is God whispering to you?" And if you've already heard it, well, what're you gonna do about it?

Even for those of us well-set along our paths, our seeking and listening days are never really behind us. So in that light, once the latest round of chaos is all sorted out -- and because, once it's found, every vocation needs its nourishment and renewal -- these pages are going quiet for a few, that the daily feed of what's doing elsewhere doesn't distract this scribe from hearing the most important Whispers of all. In a wild time, so it seems, that's all the more necessary.

God love you lot forever... and in a special way this week, wherever we might find ourselves along the road, Happy Listening.

* * *
In making good on the gifts of the promise, the trust, the one Spirit in many forms who's been given to us, we’ll carve as many trails as there are the number of us here.

Specifics aside, though, one last tip for the road… OK, two: friends, always be happy and always say ‘yes.’
In every age of the journey, joy is the sign of the Spirit, of realizing God’s will for us. This is especially true when the picture might look bleak or things seem challenging, because not even the bleakest outlook nor the most uphill of hurdles is ever greater than the power of God, and the power of His people working together.

And lastly, never forget that none of us got here alone – we are, all of us, the fruit of people who said “yes” to God, “yes” to His work, and “yes” to us. That “yes” opens the doors to life, to every good thing, and never more when it leads us down a path we wouldn’t have expected. So, gang, never be afraid, always enjoy the ride, and just like those who got us here, you will bear amazing fruit.

Fellow pilgrims, Church of God, it’s a blessing to share this vineyard with you. I know you’ll love and serve in it well always, and I pray that as you journey on, you’ll have all the fun and every blessing there is in the world.

Enough talking – Lord knows there's too much to do out there, so at long last, let’s get to it.
Lectio Magistralis
Aquinas Institute of Theology
St Louis
7 May 2010