Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Vocations Awareness Week, part 2

Yesterday I said a few words about the confusion of the definition of "vocation" and that we rarely hear the word ascribed to those called to marriage. Today I'd like to continue the topic in light of this Vocations Awareness Week by looking at how we define vocation.

We were created in and through love for love. Our body is called to love and we return this gift by giving a total gift of self in love. There are two ways of irrevocably giving self – marriage and consecrated life.
John Paul II summarized in Familiaris Consortio #11:

God created man in His own image and likeness: calling him to existence through love, He called him at the same time for love. God is love and in Himself He lives a mystery of personal loving communion. Creating the human race in His own image and continually keeping it in being, God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion. Love is therefore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.[…] Christian revelation recognizes two specific ways of realizing the vocation of the human person in its entirety, to love: marriage and virginity or celibacy. Either one is, in its own proper form, an actuation of the most profound truth of man, of his being "created in the image of God."

Our whole life should be a training to love – in heaven we will give/receive love eternally. Our vocation is the particular way in which God calls us to learn to love Him. A vocation, therefore, isn't something we grasp for or determine ourselves. It requires listening, patience, discerning in prayer so we can receive all that the Lord has for us.

If our whole life is a training to love, and we do that in a guided way through a vocation, then we should be preparing for our vocation from Day 1. We aren't waiting for life to begin the moment we make vows, whether as priests, consecrated or married. We begin learning to love and are eventually called to further specify the way in which we love through our total and forever gift to God.

I once heard Matt Maher give some excellent advice: Don't make finding your vocation your God. He said we are often so intent on finding our vocation that we lose sight of the Vocation-Giver. Many singles place so much emphasis, focus and stress on their future vocation that rather than preparing themselves to receive God’s love and to love Him in return, they are training themselves (ironically) to be self-focused, to grasp instead of to receive.

When we pray for vocations, we need to pray for openness in discernment, for the ability to hear God clearly, for the conviction to act upon the call He gives. Once again, this is a thought often reserved for those called to priesthood and religious life. Yet, those preparing for or discerning marriage also need to receive the call in patience, trust, openness, surrender and discernment. If this is the beginning for both vocations, both states of life can blossom more fully in the soil of God's love.

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