On Sunday, April 17th, we celebrate Vocations Sunday in the Catholic Church. It is a day when we remember all who are thinking about how best to live this one life which each one of us has been given. That one life we have to live is a special gift. Sometimes, that one life is surrendered on the battlefield. Sometimes, it is surrendered in circumstances not of our own choosing. But most often, it is surrendered in love for other human beings. Every parent knows what this means. And so does every person who, in the challenging circumstances of today’s world, opts to live a life inspired by love and faith.
Just recently I was reflecting on something I heard from a young Imam in France. He was reflecting on what was happening to his peers in the chaos of the Paris banlieux (so well depicted in the disturbing French film, La Haine). He described the drift towards radicalisation among the young Muslims as prompted by what he called the “sacralisation of hate”. What a terrible phase that is, all the more terrible because acknowledge its awful truth.
For young women and men who opt to surrender their lives in the call to vocation, we know that they are experiencing the inner journey towards a holy place. It is the place of mystery.
This year I had the privilege to stand in a holy place, a beautiful Irish valley tucked away in the hills in a ravine carved out over millions of years by a mountain stream. In times past it was the location of hidden place for the celebration of Mass in Penal Times.
On the day when I stood there with others, four young people stepped forward to proclaim their intention to make Final Vows as religious in religious congregations later in the year. They were each given a Tau cross as a symbol of their intention. I sensed the gathering of all the men and women who had here professed their Catholic faith to stand in solidarity with these young people.
For me, the option to surrender one’s life in discerning to live one’s life by faith for others is a ‘sacralisation of love’. It is what the world needs at the present time.
Pope Francis refers to this in his [Message for Vocations Sunday](http://www.catholicbishops.ie/2016/04/12/pope-francis-message-for-vocations-sunday–2016-the-church-mother-of-vocations/) when speaks of vocation in terms of a rejection of individualism and of the narcissistic ideologies of the present day.
The vocational journey is undertaken together with the brothers and sisters whom the Lord has given to us: it is a con-vocation. The ecclesial dynamism of the call is an antidote to indifference and to individualism. It establishes the communion in which indifference is vanquished by love, because it demands that we go beyond ourselves and place our lives at the service of God’s plan, embracing the historical circumstances of his holy people.
We pray for all who choose this path to live out a vocation inspired by faith and love.
Thanks for your reflection Donal. “That one life we have to live is a special gift” Echoes of Mary Oliver here “What is it we want to do with our one precious life?”. One of those questions which the poet David Whyte might term ‘ a question that has no right to go away’. It doesn’t matter if we are 18 or 80 the question still remains.
Thank you, Martin, I was aware of the Mary Oliver connection. Thank you also for noting that ‘one question that will not go away’. I think that is where the vocation call originates: with a question that just won’t go away.
I was part of a group the year before last in Ireland who were reflecting on Autumn. They saw Autumn as such a beautiful time, perhaps helped by their proximity to the Botanic Gardens in Dublin. People spoke of how a visit to the Gardens in Autumn lifted their spirits as much as, if not more than, Spring time did. I thought “what a great way to view this Season which is often spoken about as if it were only the gateway to Winter.”. I thought Autumn deserves to be enjoyed on its own merits. Perhaps the Autumn of Religious Life deserves the same!
Thank you, Martin, for this lovely comment.