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Father Muench Says...

‘A vocation demands hard work’

Aug. 28, 2019

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Last weekend, I went on a road trip. My nephew, Paul, and his wife, Susan, invited me to join them on a trip to New Hampshire to visit their daughter, my great niece, Anna. She is a musician and was performing as part of a summer theater. We attended two shows while there. I must add that Anna was great.

The trip was a lot of driving up and back. When not driving, I read. At present, I have been reading a recent book written by David Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times. This book is a series of essays on what he sees as the challenges and commitments that a person must face as they strive to make their lives something that really matters.

I found it interesting that among his commitments, he writes about vocation. He states that everyone should recognize that they are called – they have a vocation – called by who they are and how their life is being influenced by their abilities and gifts. In developing this section about vocation, he thinks there is an inner voice that leads and guides each of us to discover this call to a way of life. Everyone has a vocation.

As a person of faith, as a Catholic priest, when I speak of vocation I think of God. I believe that God reaches out in love, leading and guiding us, so we find our call, our vocation. This is not about a career. This is about a way of life – meeting the challenge to make this world a better place by the way we choose to live, possibly as a priest, as a religious sister, as a married person, as a single person. This is our vocation.

I liked many of Brooks’ ideas about vocation. While not specifically religious, they fit into my ideal of a vocation. Here is his definition: Vocation is about some activity or some injustice that calls a person to the deepest level of attraction, demanding an active response. For me, God is an important element in vocation, in all people’s vocations. It may be young people considering a life decision, it may be anyone of us considering the challenge of one day’s demands or commitment. This is a true vocation of every day of our lives.

Brooks speaks about the demand of a vocation to have a testing period. This is a time to determine if the costs and the sacrifices of a vocation outweighs the benefits, realizing that helping others, it would be unthinkable to turn away. I am borrowing from Brooks. A vocation demands hard work and sacrifice. To meet the commitment of a dedicated life means being ready and willing to do the hard work.

David Brooks speaks of discovering a vocation is an “Annunciation Moment.” Isn’t that a great expression? Life is filled with many things that arouse our interest and challenge our spirits. What have you truly loved this far? What are you passionate about? What are you ready to give of yourself unselfishly to accomplish something important? Are you ready to make this a better world?

Our world is filled with beautiful things – moments to wonder. Sadly, sometimes we allow them to pass by without realizing their importance. We must be aware and have the courage to work hard. I believe that God constantly leads us, calls us, encourages us, shows us the way, but each of us must meet the challenge and do the work. If we are truly to find our vocation, our opportunity to be fully alive, we must dig the ditch.

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