By Petra Stella
Are you one of the many former religious who will sit in Mass this Sunday hearing Father mention that it is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, and immediately feel that painful twinge in your heart? It probably feels like yet another painful reminder of the “Year Of Not Me” all over again!
It’s easy to fall into that trap… thinking this is not about you.
After all – this is the Year of Consecrated Life, and it’s the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.
But if you think this isn’t about you, you aren’t paying attention! You – and I – and all the women in our situation: we need the graces and guidance that will come of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations as much as anyone else… perhaps more than anyone else!
About 2 weeks before I returned back to the world, I was sick in bed with influenza, and remained in my cell for a few days. During that time, I re-read Christifideles Laici. At this stage I already knew I’d be approaching my superior about returning home when I was well and she was back from her retreat… and so I read it with very much a searching mindset. And with a great deal of hope and excitement, not yet tinged by the grief of loss that was to come after actually leaving.
As I read this beautiful gem from among the legacy of St John Paul the Great, I was struck by the important reminder that ALL of us are consecrated. Our Baptism is a consecration, and religious life is one very beautiful way of deepening that consecration. It is not the only way.
So how do I live out MY consecration? I may one day be called to marriage, or I may be called back to religious life down the track… but if I’m consecrated by virtue of my Baptism, then I need to be living out this consecration NOW… not just waiting to deepen it some way in the future. Christifideles Laici reminds us that there are many different kinds of workers in the Vineyard of the Lord, and there is much work to be done. How can I bear fruit if I stand around idle all day? I want to bear fruit for Him!!
I gave my “yes” once upon a time to the Lord when He asked. This “yes” hasn’t changed, and every so often on special occasions, I renew this “yes” to Him. Wrapped up in this response was a realisation that even though I thought I was assenting to religious life, I didn’t really know what the future would hold, but I said “yes” to it all – everything He asked of me, no matter how little, how big, how crazy. I meant it then. I mean it now. Like Therese, I choose all. My “now” is part of this all. I’m out in the world again because He asked me to be. He has a purpose in this, and He wants me to be fruitful. Yes, Lord. I choose and embrace this “now” in which I find myself. Bless the work I undertake out here in Your Vineyard. May You bring this work that You have begun in me to completion!
I would really recommend following the link above to the Vatican website and reading Christifideles Laici prayerfully, if you are seeking guidance as to how to live your “now” fruitfully. I’d also prayerfully read – and take comfort in – Chapter 15 of John’s Gospel. This advice was given to me by a wise friend last year, and it brought me much comfort and guidance in my own situation.
And so I exhort each of you – as you lend your voice to the many that are praying for vocations today… realise that YOUR vocation, whatever that is, is every bit as much the target of any resulting grace. 🙂 Today is a World Day of Prayer for YOU.
Thanks for trying. I usually spend days of prayer or holy hours for vocations in tears. I think participating in them is the most important thing I can do–but it’s soul-rending for me.
I came back to the RC church in the past few years and in doing so I gave up a vocation. I was a fully professed Buddhist Monk prior to coming back. I say “back” not “home” because there is no “home” about it for me–I spend most of my time feeling that there is no place for someone like me, and even go so far as to tell God that “He may not want me, but I want Him, so He’s stuck” ( I’m not arrogant, am I? :P) I would love to say “yes” to God,,,but few orders will even talk to me, simply because I am older than they want. Honestly, today sent me back to the Buddhists–but on the next day of prayer I will be there again, ripping myself into little pieces because I think these days are just.that.important.
But I do want you to know that I appreciate that someone tried to include those who don’t seem to fit in the “normal” vocations mode.
Thank you for your post, and welcome to Leonie’s Longing. I think you’ve put your finger on something that everyone here can understand: the pain of asking God to give others a gift that he has not (yet, at least) given us. May He bless you for your prayers and tears!
You’re probably familiar with Thomas Merton, the Catholic monk who drew deeply from the wisdom of Buddhism in his last years of life: my favourite of his quotes is the simple declaration that “our vocation is not a sphinx’s riddle, which we must solve in one guess or perish.” What you’ve come to here is a community of people who are, mostly, still in the process of making a second (or third, or fourth) guess about God’s will for them, and I hope you’ll find the support you’re looking for. Certainly, you’ll be in our prayers!
This leads in to a more general announcement: often, for people who come here, finding posts by others who have had similar experiences is a great help in the process of healing – but if anyone reading this message (especially those who make up our “silent majority”) is struggling with pain that they don’t want to discuss in an open forum, we have several priest chaplains who have volunteered their personal and confidential help. If you fill out our contact form (https://www.leonieslonging.org/contact-us/) and indicate that you’d like to speak with a chaplain, we can put you in touch.