St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

How do I know if I have a Vocation?                                    Homily February 2, 2014

 

According to John Paul II, the World Day for Consecrated Life is dedicated to help the entire Church “to esteem ever more greatly the witness of those persons who have chosen to follow Christ” in this particular way. For us religious it is an “occasion to renew [our] commitment and rekindle the fervor which should inspire [our] offering of ourselves to the Lord.”[1]

 

They say that there is no better way to strengthen your faith than to give it to another. And I would like today to strengthen my own commitment by inviting others to that commitment. I would like to show today the beauty of religious life. In that way, those who are not called will appreciate it better, and those who are called to be religious will perhaps be awaken to an answer, to a “yes” that can really change their lives and the lives of many people.

 

Religious life is a call to follow Jesus with greater freedom and to imitate Him more closely.[2] It is a call to something more. It does not mean that you are actually better than other people. It does not mean that a married person is not holier than you, like Saint Gianna Beretta Molla and so many men and women. But you feel in your heart that you are called to sacrifice more, to dedicate your life to Him and only Him, to spend your life in the service of God, and because of that, in the service of your sisters and brothers. You are called to make your family the family of Jesus, the Church and the whole world. You feel called to love to the end of human strength, to the sacrifice of yourself for God and for every human person in the world. You feel that Jesus calls you like he called Peter, to be just with Him and to send you to preach. You feel that Jesus is your life, that he won over your heart, and that you want to follow him wherever he goes, like the holy women of the Gospel.

 

It does not mean that you have always been an altar boy. Peter was a fisherman. It does not mean that you have always been a good girl. Mary Magdalene is remembered by the tradition of the Church as the first contemplative nun. I don’t need to tell here what sins were attributed to her. She was a sinner, but she repented, and since the moment she found Jesus, Jesus was the Lord of her heart. St. Augustine was a sinner also. St. Paul killed Christians before being called by Jesus. So no, to be called to religious life does not depend on your holiness or your dignity. It is a mystery. For some reason, or perhaps precisely because there is no reason, Jesus set his eyes on you and calls you. He does not push you, he does not force you, he calls you. And in front of that call, you feel loved, you know that you have to answer, you feel the attraction, and you sometimes don’t want to believe that it is true, it seems too much. God, who could give you a commandment and be done with it, prefers to give you an invitation, and you, who are his creature, are free to say yes or no to God. You know that he has always said yes to you, and yes up to death on a Cross. It is a terrible moment.

 

God does not care if you are young. God does not need you to know what life is before being called. He is God. He knows everything, he will show you what life is. He will give you life. He said “I am the way, the truth and the life”. And he said to Jeremiah, “Do not say, 'I am too young.' You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you.” When you are called, it is not because God relies on you, on your knowledge your experience or your strength. God will be with you, within you in a certain sense, and through you he will do his own work.

 

He promises also that for all you leave behind, he will give you a hundredfold. I have seen this many times. I entered when I was young to the seminary, and I can say for myself that the gifts I have received since then are far many more than I could ever expect. If you give God what you have, God will never let himself be overcome in generosity. If you love him, he will always love you more. He does not like to be the second in love.

 

So, if you feel that you are called to do something more, if you feel that what you know is not enough, think about religious vocation. If you want to be closer to Jesus, to give your life to him to serve your sisters and brothers, think about that: God may have called you. And if he did, don’t be afraid: God knows you better than yourself, and his glance is a glance of gentle love, that wants to make you one with him. If you have been called, say yes, like Mary. Your life will be changed from water into wine, and so will be the lives of many people around the world, who are waiting for your love, actually for the love of Jesus beating in your heart.

 

May the Lord grant us more vocations to religious life, so that we may enjoy their witness, their teaching, their charity with the poor and with those who suffer. May the Lord make religious people good examples for us and may He protect them always. Amen. –Fr. Andrew

 

 

Excerpts from the II Vatican Council   

 

Perfectae Caritatis, # 2: “Indeed from the very beginning of the Church men and women have set about following Christ with greater freedom and imitating Him more closely through the practice of the evangelical counsels, each in his own way leading a life dedicated to God.”

 

Lumen Gentium, # 44: “The faithful of Christ bind themselves to the three aforesaid counsels either by vows, or by other sacred bonds, which are like vows in their purpose. By such a bond, a person is totally dedicated to God, loved beyond all things. In this way, that person is ordained to the honor and service of God under a new and special title. Indeed through Baptism a person dies to sin and is consecrated to God. However, in order that he may be capable of deriving more abundant fruit from this baptismal grace, he intends, by the profession of the evangelical counsels in the Church, to free himself from those obstacles, which might draw him away from the fervor of charity and the perfection of divine worship. By his profession of the evangelical counsels, then, he is more intimately consecrated to divine service. This consecration will be the more perfect, in as much as the indissoluble bond of the union of Christ and His bride, the Church, is represented by firm and more stable bonds.”



[1] John Paul II (1997), cf. Ordo: Liturgical Calendar, p. 124.

[2] Cf. II Vatican Council, Perfectae Caritatis, 2; Lumen Gentium, 44.