Become protagonists of the mission of the Church
It is through you that God will unlock the vocation potential of others
Children in religious garb present religious orders at Hanoi Cathedral on Good Shepherd Sunday, May 8. (Photo courtesy of tonggiaophanhanoi.org)
On Good Shepherd Sunday, which is also Vocation Sunday, religious communities around the world organize special activities to promote religious vocations among young people in churches.
Some people equate this special day with a feast of religious orders because it is an opportunity for congregations to show their charism and their spiritualities and to arouse religious vocations among young people.
However, such a comparison is not entirely correct since it has only lifted the outer shell in many layers of the deeper meaning of this holiday.
Indeed, when considering the word “festival”, people may imagine the scene as a trade fair, for example, with stalls showcasing all sorts of eye-catching products. Convents, monasteries and churches are richly decorated and Catholic singers are also invited to perform in some places.
However, should the “feast of religious orders” be understood with the outward appearance as described? Is it the day when congregations get a chance to show off their fine habits and handmade cassocks? Is it a chance to showcase their charisma? Are attractive flyers and eloquent speakers the goal of the party? Finally, some might wonder if religious vocations are better, holier, and nobler than married and celibate lives.
Honestly, we shouldn’t understand this because sooner or later this thought will devalue consecrated life and even distort people’s opinions about the different vocations in the Church.
In the common spirit, the World Day of Prayer for Vocations and the promotion of vocations that accompanies it are only a means for religious to show the way to God to young people according to their religious spiritualities.
Emphasizing the role of the ‘common vocation’ in the Synodal Church, Pope Francis said: ‘The word ‘vocation’ should not be understood restrictively as referring simply to those who follow the Lord through a life of special consecration. We are all called to share in Christ’s mission to reunite a fragmented humanity and reconcile it to God.”
Thus, all the men and women of the Church receive a fundamental vocation: each of us is a creature willed and loved by God, and each of us has a unique and special place in the thought of God.
First, we must live the rudimentary vocation of each Christian before thinking of other particular vocations.
The pope also said, “God makes a special call to each one of us. He touches our lives with his love and directs them towards our ultimate goal, towards a fulfillment that transcends the very threshold of death. This is how God wanted to see our lives and still sees them. This is why all Catholics are called to aim for the main goal – that is, to let God touch us and make us experience his great love for each one of us, and then each one introduces God to the people around the how God works and how the Church leads.
In the common spirit, the World Day of Prayer for Vocations and the vocational animation that accompanies it are only a means for religious to show the way to God to young people according to their religious spiritualities.
In praying for vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life, God does not neglect married and celibate vocations but continues to arouse a certain potential, sometimes unknown to ourselves. Throughout our lives, he works tirelessly so that we can put this potential at the service of the common good.
For this reason, the responsibility of Christians is not limited to their particular vocations, but is directed towards the construction of a world of brotherhood, where there is a mosaic of innumerable different vocations, and they work together to move an image full of love as God expects it.
You should be happy that the flower garden of the Church is full of flowers rich in color, fragrance and characteristics. You are also one of these flowers
Speaking of vocation, Pope Francis explained that it is not only a question of choosing this or that way of life, of dedicating one’s life to a certain ministry or of being attracted by the charism of a religious family, of a movement or an ecclesial community. However, every vocation in the Church and more broadly in society contributes to a common objective: to celebrate between men and women the harmony of multiple gifts which can only be achieved by the Holy Spirit.
On the day of prayer for vocations, if you see intense activities to promote the vocations of religious orders, you must remember the pope’s message and understand what the protagonists are doing. They unwittingly try to lure young people into their convents and monasteries and lower the honor and worth of other congregations to show how beautiful their own groups are. Nor do they intend to highlight the beauty of consecrated life.
In doing so, you are called to become protagonists in the mission of the Church to bring divine love to others through your own vocations. Through you, God will unlock the potential for vocations in other people.
You should be happy that the flower garden of the Church is full of flowers rich in color, fragrance and characteristics. You are also one of these flowers.
Let’s spread our sweet perfume and speak of God in our vocations. Therefore, within the Synodal Church, clerics, men and women religious and laity journey and work together to bear witness to the truth that one great human family united in love is not a utopian vision, but the goal even for which God created us.
*The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News. This article was summarized and translated by a UCA News reporter from a Vietnamese article published by dongten.net here.