Today begins Vocation Awareness Week 2019. This week the faithful will observe several activities to keep the conversation about vocations to the priesthood, religious life and lay consecrated life going.
The activities are meant to create an awareness that this conversation is still necessary and relevant, and most of all, that God still calls men and women into His service.
The sense of awareness of “vocation” and “call” can never be taken for granted, however. The institutional Church cannot take for granted that the rank and file of Church membership relates to the language of “vocation” and “call”.
This is language that must be demystified as well as painstakingly taught and used. The just-concluded Extraordinary Missionary Month of October helps in making the notion of Call accessible to every believer and thus, helps in the demystification process. Call language is not to be associated only with priests and nuns. Baptism calls everyone into mission.
The Church is missionary by nature. Every baptised Catholic is called to the mission of making Christ known wherever he or she lives, works or studies. The Call is not for a select few; everyone has a vocation.
The language of Call and vocation also must be taught and used in everyday conversation and reflection. Like any language such as French or Portuguese, as the saying goes, ‘if one does not use it, one will lose it’. We must teach and use the language of Call by encouraging careful and prayerful attention to the Call stories of the Bible.
We must teach and use the language of Call by encouraging believers to share their own experience of being moved to reach out to, to serve or, to make sacrifice for someone. This is a Call story too. The language of Call must cease to be “a foreign language” to some Catholics.
Put another way, when everyone is using it, only then we can begin speaking about the Call to the priesthood, religious life and lay consecrated life with ease and confidence. Only then we would not be tripping over a word that seems theologically forced and socially awkward.
The language of Call and vocation must be part of the everyday conversation of Catholics. What is God calling me to? What is God calling me to do in this situation?
Such everyday questions are foundational for asking more precise questions, ‘Is God calling me to the priesthood? Is God calling my son to the priesthood?
Vocations Awareness Week, which is now an annual event in the Archdiocese of Port of Spain, would be complemented if throughout the rest of the year in daily prayer and reflection, individuals and families would ask what God is asking of us.
When this groundswell takes place the culture of vocations will flourish and our seminaries, convents and covenant communities will have many a heart and soul knocking at their doors for admission.