Recently, I was given a beautiful photograph of a sunset with exploding colors swirling about the sky, touching the surface of the water like a feather duster. The photographer entitled the photo: “Be still and know that I am God.” The scene displays a creativity and serenity that invites contemplation.
I thought of that caption as I was reflecting on Sunday’s World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Today, it is so very difficult for most of us to sit still for just a minute in order to pay attention to what the Lord might be inviting us to do with our lives and, surely, God is inviting us! At a meeting with the priests of the Diocese of Rome on Holy Thursday, Pope Benedict XVI reminded the priests that every person receives a “call” from the Lord. The Holy Father quoted St. Paul in his Letter to the Ephesians: “Lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” (Eph. 4:1)
There is a call, a voice that has called each of us. The Lord always calls; it is listening that is lacking. The Holy Father’s words to the priests should resonant within us: “I am not anonymous or meaningless in the world: there is a call, there is a voice that has called me, a voice that I follow. And my life must penetrate ever more deeply into the development of the call, following this voice.” L’Osservatore Romano, 2/29/12)
The fruit of living the Lord’s call is a life saturated with meaning, hope and joy. However, I must provide the time, space, and generous heart to hear and respond.Each of us is gifted with certain “hearing aids” for our discernment of the Lord’s call and each of us becomes a hearing aid for others when we assist them in listening to their own call.
The Holy Father remarked: “We must pay attention to the Lord’s voice with others.” For instance, throughout our lives, our parents guide and encourage us in our quests for happiness. Teachers and coaches challenge us to develop our intellect and skills. Our consecrated religious, deacons and priests witness joy-filled models of such a call-response, as do devoted married couples and faithful single persons.
As we focus on vocations, let us be aware of our responsibility to tend faithfully to the call we have received from the Lord. Let us also reflect on how well we are functioning as hearing aids for others.
How often do I offer words of support and encouragement to couples desiring to celebrate the Sacrament of Matrimony?
When was the last time that I told a young man that I thought he would make a good priest and should consider entering the seminary; share with a friend my thoughts that he should consider the diaconate; or when did I last remark to a young lady that she would bless the Church as a consecrated religious?
When did I last spend time with a single person and helped to lighten the unique struggles of his or her vocation?
It is no secret. We have been suffering the burden of a vocation crisis, rather-- the burden of vocations crises.
Secondly, we must be convinced that our God never abandons us when we seek to do His will, therefore, we must not be afraid to take the step to follow.
Thirdly, we must find the occasions to be hearing aids for others in their vocational discernment. I invite all to persevere in prayer for an increase in vocations to the consecrated life and the clergy. Pray for the strengthening of faith of those living out the married or single vocation. The Lord will answer. We need only be still long enough to pay attention.