Giotto, 13th cent. Basilica of San Francesco in Assisi
This week is the annual time of prayer for vocations to the religious life and ordained ministry in the Catholic Church.
Vocation comes from the Latin word "vocare", meaning "to call." There are several Scriptural references telling us about God calling individuals. Abraham, Moses, Naomi, Samuel, Mary, the Twelve Apostles, St. Mary Magdelene, St. Paul (Saul) the Apostle. These are but some names (one could think of Samson, Esther and St. John the Baptist, too).
God continues to call men and women to the consecrated life within the Church. Even from the earliest times in the history of the Church God has been selecting individuals for himself. Most are called to the married life and to be consecrated to the Lord within his Church through this vocation.
At the same time, God has faithfully been calling certain others to the prophetic way of life. People are not called for themselves, however. Looking at the Sacred Scriptures and the lives of the Saints, it becomes very obvious that God calls people to himself for the life of the world. The ancients and the moderns both had to learn that God calls us for others, for his Church.
Abraham is called to be a blessing (cf. Gen 12); Moses is called to lead Israel from slavery (cf. Ex 3); Mary of Nazareth, is called to be the Mother of God and to bring the Word of God incarnate into the world (cf. Lk 1); St. Mary Magdalene is called to be the "apostle to the apostles" (cf. Jn 21; Pope John Paul II); St. Paul is called to be the Apostle to the Gentiles (cf. Acts 9).
St. Francis of Assisi and St. Clare of Assisi were each called to be a force of renewal in the Medieval Church. The Franciscan family continues to try to respond to God's call to proclaim God's grace in our broken and wounded world. Each generation needs the saving and healing power of Jesus Christ because the human reality remains the same although it may take a different form from generation to generation.
In the midst of human suffering we Franciscans are still being called to be bearers of Jesus' Good News and to proclaim his peace and good to a cynical generation, to be men and women who help to repair the Lord's house -- his People!
How is God calling you? What is his "vocare" for your life? Are you willing to listen? Like St. Francis and St. Clare, will you ask him, "Lord, what do you want for my life?" If you do, don't worry, your life will change -- it will be the adventure of faith -- for good!