Early in most of our lives, perhaps while we were inhabiting our dreams, someone asked us what we would like to be or do when we grew up. Instinctively, some or all of us gave
stock replies: an astronaut, a millionaire, a fireman, a doctor, a film-star, a super-hero. Maybe some of us never wanted to grow up and to play out the rest of our lives while the sun shined. Perhaps, though, deeper down, a few harboured quiet and dignified
notions of having children of our own; or of being a nun or a priest in the service of a great power. How many of us did get to realise our dreams, our true potential, our calling?
What is a vocation?
Now and then, a seer of sorts will tell you that 'you can be anything that you want to be'. These days, there is an impatient rush sometimes to 'do anything you want to do', because you can. When it comes to ultimately choosing 'what to do' with your 'life',
do you take what comes and let your conscience be your guide; or does your pride get in the way of taking on a 'job' that you would like to do, but that you fear others will look upon with disdain? Perhaps some of us were fortunate enough to be born with a
strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation and had the will, support, good fortune and ability to achieve it. Others may have Realitos, perhaps not initially, that they had a religious vocation, a special gift and call from God, that
was received in faith and cultivated and discerned in prayer. But what if you did not live out your dream, or were denied your original choice of occupation, course, mission or purpose?
Marriage and parenthood
Those of us who were reared in the bosum of 'the family' knew something of marriage and bringing up children. We didn't know it all, though. Not all marriages are happy; and not all upbringings follow a standard manual of procedures; there is none. Despite
this, men and woman take sacred oaths to join together in a matrimony of bodies and souls. They stay together until only death does them part. If they are blessed with children, they take all responsibility for their upbringing and their actions until they
can fend for themselves; or are ready to be spouses and/or parents themselves. And, as some parents have discovered, their duties have extended to the grandchildren. This is a life-long commitment, and of itself, does not promise financial rewards; or advancement
through the ranks. However, every moment of married life is graced by the presence of God.
Priesthood and serving God
The word 'vocation' invokes immediate thoughts perhaps of those men who
serve God as priests; and the many women who dedicated themselves to healing, saving, teaching and praying, as nuns. For a young man to assume the weighty vestments of performing the daily miracle of 'transubstantiation' and direct communication with God on
behalf of all of mankind, there must be a divine requirement to choose rightly; and to be so called. In this regard, it is a vocation which is unique from all others, perhaps beyond the comprehension of most laypersons. It is a readiness to give oneself to
a life of sacrifice in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. Either God gives them or they don't exist. Past and present events have served to challenge the strength and determination of the Catholic Church, and all those men and women who are members of religious
orders. And yet, even if the numbers are small by comparison to those of twenty years ago, people are still being called, and are still responding to serve in this unique way.
This author did have dreams, and they did not include a religious vocation. Once he realised that he would never play in the English premiership, he tried for a third-level spot, but failed to accumulate the necessary points. Not being particularly adventurous,
and somewhat lacking initiative, a well-paid job eluded him until his father's advice paid off and he found himself in an occupation, which rescued him from complete anonymity and restored his dignity. The pay wasn't bad either and he dedicated himself to
what he considered to be a worthy service. But then, his life really took off, when he met a wonderful young lady who agreed to be his wife. The years passed by, they had children and their family grew. He was heard to observe one day: 'I've had a good and
rewarding life.' To which his wife replied: 'You needn't think you're finished, yet."
It might take time for some of us to realise just what our own particular calling in life is. It might not necessarily centre on your job, or even your career. They
alone should not define you. They can certainly help, of course, especially if you do answer the call to be a husband, a wife, a father, a mother. Most of us do good and lawful work. We make the right choices in that regard. We are helped along the way. We
do not lead amoral lives. We are law-abiding, and are not afraid to occupy the moral high ground when required. Thankfully, we have been guided along the right path.
Perhaps your vocation in life is how you as a person and not as some 'number' lead
your life, deal with the realities, use your talents, take advantage of the circumstances, seize the opportunities. And if you are fortunate to find something that matches your abilities, and even your dreams, then many people will benefit greatly from your
Many are called but few are chosen. Many of us apply but few are chosen, you may offer, if you are out of work and job-hunting. God is never too far from a choice of
vocation. Whether He directly calls to a chosen few, or helps you to determine the right and proper course in life, if you ask Him for help and advice, and you believe that He can give it, then He will 'mark your card'.
This month we pray:
That young people may find their true vocation in life;
That they may follow their true vocation with God's guidance;
That they resist temptations along the path.
Christ is telling you:
Come follow me,
Come cast away your fear,
Come, I will give you more than I am asking you to give me.
COME, FOLLOW ME.
Rev. John A. Hardon, S.J. SRV Chaplain
www.sisterservantsofmary.org - Sister Julia Castillo, S. de M