By Matt Keppel
The Church of today is one that suffers from maladies spanning a spectrum of finances to scandal to empty pews; problems which cannot be addressed adequately short of a dissertation. Yet one problem which is harped on by pundits, parishioners, and anyone who has one eye on Rome is that of vocations. It is generally accepted as a Catholic’s calling to priesthood and/or religious life (gotta throw a bone to the editor). However, this term “vocation” means so much more than what we give it credit for.
If you ask most Catholics about their vocation, most will get this glassy look in their eye if as though you asked the most hallowed of all questions. The rest will have the fire of a thousand suns in their eyes, which is certainly caused by one or a number of ills. No matter who you ask, it is a topic that is sure to cause a reaction… but should it really? Or, are we actually failing to communicate?
The word “vocation” is simple enough. It is derived from the Latin, vocatio, meaning “to call.” There is nothing overly holy or praise-worthy about it. Yet, at the same time, it has become that–and for so many reasons (Not the least of which being that calling comes from none other than Christ Himself!).
We really do have a vocation crisis in the Church, not just for our vowed religious, but for the entire life of the Church. Our “vocation” crisis isn’t that people are not being called to serve the Church. We have failed at the most basic aspects of communicating with God. God never stops calling, we just stopped listening. For anyone interested in listening to that call, it ought to begin with prayer: a chance to listen in order to understand and best answer what God is saying.
Listening to God at work in our lives may not necessarily be a radical change Daily prayer and going to Mass regularly are actually simple actions that take very little time. But, I cannot guarantee what will happen when we do take the time and effort to listen. We may find ourselves being called to serve the poor, to work with disenfranchised youth, or you might even find a calling to drop everything and become a missionary. Stranger things have happened. I have travelled thousands of miles following my own calling and do not regret a single moment of it.
So, if you are willing to take on this challenge, and by all means I encourage it, do so with an open heart, lots of prayer and, along the way, I promise that you will find the peace and joy of God.