Written on: April 20, 2013
Fifty years ago, Pope Paul VI designated Good Shepherd Sunday as a world-wide day to pray for Vocations to the Church in the form of ordained ministry and consecrated life. This year’s theme is “Vocations as a sign of hope founded in faith.” In the words of Pope Benedict, “…what exactly is God’s faithfulness, to which we adhere with unwavering hope? It is His love!…this love, fully manifested in Jesus Christ, engages with our existence and demands a response in terms of what each individual wants to do with his or her life, and what he or she is prepared to offer to live it to the full. The love of God sometimes follows paths one never could have imagined, but it always reaches those who are willing to be found.”
This last part resonates with the many stories of those who seek guidance about their Christian vocation. Many claim to feel unworthy, too sinful. Some speak of the life-long resistance to the call, and the continual nagging feeling that God has chosen them for something different. Sadly, too many wait decades hoping the feeling will go away, rather than responding to the call, and testing it out. If only we could let people know that it is okay to “try on” religious life. Some people fear feelings of shame if they should discern that religious life is not for them. However, this would be nothing compared to the pain of suddenly realizing, when life is nearing its finish, that God was truly calling and we were too busy, too self-absorbed, too worldly to respond.
On this World Day of Prayer for Vocations we hope that you will pray with us to the Good Shepherd to call good, strong, compassionate men and women to vocations in the Church. Not the perfect, not the fancy; but those like the shepherd in the story, simple, humble, willing to do the right thing when it presents itself. As Pope Francis has said, we must be Evangelizers- going out to collect that one lost sheep, not content to sit home with the 99 others.
This is the call of Vocation. To set aside worldly things for the love of God and neighbor. This past week the Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart have been in Chapter, discerning the direction of the Congregation for the next 5 years, and selecting the women among them who will be their leaders during that time. Not one of the women selected for the General Administration entered the Congregation with thoughts of leading it one day. They entered as women who wanted to put their relationship with God first in their lives. They entered to make a difference in their own lives by making a difference in the lives of others. What they dreamed their life would look like probably turned out to be something quite different. But what they entered with remains, they are deeply in love with their God and with the people they are called to serve.
We have only one life to live, but many choices about how to live that life. Choose Jesus and leave the details to God.