This Vocation Awareness Week, I am reminded once again of Mary, the Mother of Jesus. She was given a sacred assignment. She was given a vocation: a sacred task to do for God. For this is what a vocation is: a sacred assignment.
Everyone has a vocation. The task for Mary was to prepare God’s son. Can you imagine what an awesome responsibility it was? We must remember that vocation is more than a job, although your job can be your vocation.
One of the great themes of the Scriptures is that of people being called by name. God has called all of us by name to do something special with our lives. In this call, we are to help build up the Kingdom of God.
The most basic call for all of us is to love. The question that we ask is, “How am I to love?” For some, it is priesthood, religious life, diaconate, married or single! But whatever the conclusion, we must pray and ask God for direction. We have to make room and be quiet so as to be able to hear his voice amidst all of the competing voices in our world.
Since I was ordained 30 years ago, I am now more aware that we are no longer an established church, but a missionary church. The cultural and religious landscape we face today is very different than that of when I was ordained or growing up. Many people have never been exposed to any faith in God at all, but also, so many now reject faith.
And so, we need laborers to gather the harvest.
“The harvest is great, but laborers are few,” this great line from the Gospel of Luke reminds us to pray for laborers who will work in the vineyard of the Lord. Any Christian project, or work of God, needs workers for it to flourish! Are we listening?
Yes, we must all pray for vocations to the priesthood and ministry, but we must also invite young people to consider that vocation and create a positive environment that reaches toward the transcendent in our worship.
There are a couple of changes we could make that would help young people to be open to priesthood and religious life. First, we need to pray and encourage them to daily prayer, and I mean all of our youngsters, male and female.
Without listening to God, and that means daily prayer, no one can hear his call. He does not shout, he whispers. If the only communication that any of us receives from anyone is via text message or earbuds, none of us will get the invitation to be like Christ.
Second is to invite and encourage. Since taking over the Vocation Office in June, I have spoken to many young men and women about vocations. How many times I have heard, “My parents want grandchildren!” The support of vocations must be in the home so that they may flourish.
Please join me in praying for, supporting, and encouraging vocations in your families for our archdiocese and the Church Universal.
Reverend Anthony L. Chandler