Posts Tagged ‘Vocation’

From Consumer to Disciple..

January 27, 2018

” You likewise know how we exhorted every one of you , as a father does his children – How we encouraged and pleaded with you to make your lives worthy of the God who calls you to his kingship and glory. That is why we thank God constantly that in receiving his message from us you took it, not as the word of men, but as it truly is , the word of God at work within you who believe.”
( 1 Thessalonians 2:11-13 )

This weeks reading we return to the book of Thessalonians where Paul is attempting to encourage the community, by reminding them of the things they are called to as disciples of Christ. The first part of that reading says that he is asking them to remember that they are to live lives worthy of the call.

Worthy of the call to the kingship. It is Paul that feels the certain patriarchy, Paul feels , a certain responsibility because he went to Thessalonika to preach and founded this community. By this time the community had gotten quite large. As the community grows, it presents some certain challenges because the humanity of the people grows exponentially as the community grows. . It requires a little more hands on approach to governance.

We as humans, we tend to fall into a rut, we get comfortable… we get sometimes too comfortable. We get into a habit of certain things…. We get into the habit of going to church, the habit, the physical act of going to church, of showing up, of going through the motions, and as a result, can become complacent in our spiritual growth.

We need to take responsibility for our own formation, for our own spiritual growth. We have too often become the “consumer of church” . We go expecting to be entertained. We want it to be comfortable.. we want it to be nice.. We want it to be easy, and we want it to feel good ! absolutely NONE of that is what we are called to. The practice of our faith life is not comfortable, it is not easy, and it takes work.. .HARD WORK.

The kingship that we are called to is to know our selves, to know our failures, to have the responisbility
to the other, although they too are called the kingdom. They too are called to the same work. We have a responisbility to them, for them. Our call is to serve. In order to serve effectively, we must first take a good hard look at the state of our spiritual lives. Our spiritual education.

We have a 2 fold service. service to God, and service to our fellow man. Both of these require us to know and experience God in our daily lives. In our study, in our practice and our works.

In today’s world you don’t just walk into a job, where it is being a mechanic, or being a professor, or doctor… any kind of job and simply expect to begin working with no background. Likewise, you can not advance within that job, without additional study, practice, mentoring. Along with that training there will need to be some hands on work, or practical experience. Our faith lives are no different.

You are called to be Priest, Prophet and King, but you need some basic instruction from where to begin. Faith life becomes a point of practice. You take this basic information, and plug that knowledge into your day-to-day life. You develop understanding where you excel and others where you fail. You make changes and you grow hopefully.

The problem is that all too often people stop there. Sure, they go to church every Sunday. They consume what they are given in the way of scripture and sacraments, which is good and necessary.
It tends not to be enough. It is just enough so that you are maintaining the minimum. Its like going to the mechanics and getting the oil changed. You know you need to do it.. You do it so that you can keep going. It protects you so that your car will keep going. But its not enough.. there is work to be done.

When I first started studies as a Spiritual Assistant, I talked with a priest friend , who gave me this one piece of advise. If you want to grow in your faith. If you want to REALLY know the heart and soul of your faith, study the Gospels. Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

In the heart of the Gospels you will find the true center of our faith. The things we are called to know, to share and to bring to others. You can not ” Go forth and make disciples of all the nations”…. if you don’t know what you’re making them disciples of ? !! Sharing your faith with others means that the people who you are sharing your faith with, will have questions. I dare say, that in sharing your faith, you too might have questions that you do not have the answers for….. AND THAT IS OK ! its GOOD !

The most intelligent thing, the most responsible thing, is to tell them something like :

” I don’t have the answer to that question, but I will find the answer for you, and let you know..”

Why ? It’s being honest, and the person who is asking the question, will hear the ring of truth. AND, honestly, if you don’t have an answer, then this will be a point of growth for you as well.

Too often we have become reticent in our study. To a certain degree, they can become repetitious. You will come to know the answers to these questions. They are usually pretty basic questions. People want to know why you believe this , or that ? Why do you DO this or that ? How do you know that God exists ? Why did God allow this, or not do that ? Give me a reference in the Bible, for your belief in this or that.

But guess what ? THAT too can become commonplace, and a habit. So then what ?

You will have to find answers to your own questions ! GO and seek out new questions, and find the answers, because if you find the questions, eventually someone else will have those questions too ! You can be the laborer who plants the seed of deeper faith and spread God’s kingdom. That seed will eventually bear fruit not only in their lives and in the lives of those that THEY touch, but in your own spiritual life as well.

Keep asking questions, and keep asking questions until you get more questions, deeper questions, until you run out of questions ( You never run out of questions ! ).

By your seeking, by your learning, by your faithfulness, you will answer the call to fulfill your vocation as a disciple of Jesus Christ !

May God give your the gift of His peace !


On Being Solicitous…

December 10, 2017

On Being Solicitous…

” Be solicitous to make your call and election permanent, brothers, surely those who do so will never be lost. On the contrary, your entry into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be richly provided for. ” ( 2 Peter 1: 10-11)

The word “solicitous” comes from the Latin verb sollicitare, meaning “to disturb, agitate, move, or entreat. So why this word in this passage ? In this passage we are called upon, to look at the various vocations, or callings. We are asked to look within, to see the path that God has laid out before us.

Now, in today’s day and age, maybe you have not taken much time, to take stock in, or take a deep look into your vocation. We each have multiple vocations each of which require some contemplation and commitment. The primary vocation or calling is that of being a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ.

This call to be a follower of Christ, can cause ALL of these feelings and emotions. These feelings can occur at multiple points in our spiritual journey. We can become disturbed, by that still small voice that calls us to God. It may be some little thing. It may be that nagging feeling that maybe there is something better for you. It might be a sense that your life has come to a point that has allowed you to stop and get off the world’s craziness for a bit, and provided time for you to look across your life and see that something might be missing.. It might be a loss, or just a pause.

That call can also be rather annoying, to the point of agitation. When that call becomes so very overwhelming, that you are forced to deal with it. It is a so strong, it just can not be ignored or put on hold any longer. Eventually, you must come to a good decision in order to gain lasting peace in your heart. In my own journey as a Franciscan, I actually went through initial formation twice.

I went through the first time, and approached the point where I would profess my rule, but was told that I was not ready. I eventually left, and went away for about 5 years. During that time, I kept running into others in my community, who kept inviting me back. In my heart I knew that this was where I belonged, but the pain of what I viewed as rejection, and my own pride, kept me from going back.

The problem was. that that nagging call, that annoying voice, that pull that would not be ignored, finally got the better of me, and as you know, I returned to complete the journey that was God’s plan for me.

Your call should agitate you ! I know that you might think that your Christian life should be all roses. I am sorry. It’s not like that at all. Sure, you have peace in your heart, but that peace comes from knowing that your salvation is “nearer now than when you first believed”, but, this world is not our home. We are in the struggle. Not only from the environment outside, but from within as well.

Our faith life is a series of mountains and valleys triumphs and falls. How often do we start the day thinking, and praying, and promising, that we will be better at doing this thing or that thing that we are struggling with, only to find at the end of the day, that we failed, in how we dealt with that exact thing ?

It is in the recognition of the issue, and the struggle to grow, and to be better than we are, that causes us to be agitated. In addition, it should also cause us to move, and to be moved. It should move us towards God. It should move our hearts and souls, toward Heaven. It should move us to do everything we can do, to constantly strive to move our lives to be ever closer to the whatever is the will of God for us in our lives.

Vocations, are an interesting study. It is only recently that the discussion of vocations, has extended beyond that of priests, and religious brothers and sisters. In fact, vocations are so much more than that. We have a vocation as Christians. That vocation, is even inclusive of the 3 fold vocation of “priest, prophet and king”. There are vocations to be single, or married, or to one community or another. There is a professional vocation ( the work you do to earn your daily bread ), which in itself becomes , by way of a circular logic, to our primary vocation, of being a Christian. There are of course many other “minor” vocations subject to the Christian vocation.

So, we are asked in this passage, to make this call permanent ; make it part of your daily life. Our call, is a life-long journey. We never reach a point in our faith life where we know it ALL, or we are free from the effects of sin, until we make it to Heaven.

More people than not, go through their initial Christian education, to a certain point, probably to the end of their elementary school years, or middle school years. They receive the sacraments, Baptism, and Confirmation, First Holy Communion, and then they disappear until they themselves become parents and the cycle begins again. The journey of Christian education never ends. There things we learn on the journey of our vocation also changes and reflects into our lives with different messages in different ways according to your call, and your journey.

So, I want to encourage you to renew your call, your vocation, and your own journey toward Heaven. Make that journey a permanent part of your daily life. Your journey of faith will challenge you, will frustrate you, will agitate you, and will make you soar ! ( Oh, yea, and it will also give you peace too ).

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Lather….Rinse… Repeat !

July 1, 2017

“See what love the Father has bestowed on us in letting us be called children of God !
Yet that it what we are. The reason the world does not recognize us is that it never recognized the Son. Dearly beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall later be has not yet come to light. We know that when it comes to light, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope based on Him keeps himself pure, as He is pure.” ( 1 John 3: 1-3 )

Some of you who might not be aware, 1st John, ( also second, and third ), come near the end of the New Testament and is not part and parcel of the 4th Gospel. This letter, written by John, was written during a time when the church was going through a period of heresy. Particularly Gnosticism, which denied the humanity of Jesus. or Docetism. In the docetistic heresy, the followers believe that Jesus was purely divine, his body made almost ghostly and so his passion death and resurrection would have been purely appearance sake.

Today, we have a vast number of heresies and different versions of apostasy. In Johns time it was no different. there were people roaming about preaching all kinds of whacky stuff. In Johns letters, and particularly in this letter there was a certain thematic progress to them. These were meant to drive home the principles of Christian faith and life.

Sometimes we need a little reminding of the things that are important in our faith lives.
It is important that we study. It is important that we memorize our faith, our beliefs and it is vitally important that we not only BELIEVE , but that we know WHY we believe the things we do, and where those things come from.

Priests, and Deacons when they go through formation , they take classes in the practice of exegesis.
Exegesis is simply the process of reading, studying, asking questions, and then finding the answers to those questions in preparation for sharing that information with others.

This practice is not just for priests and deacons. It is something that everyone should be doing. Now, i am not saying everyone should go out and get their own interpretation of what the Bible says or anything of that sort. What I am however saying, is take a good long hard look at your faith life. Consider all the things that you believe, and then start asking the questions. Not the easy ones.. not the ones you might have learned in the Baltimore Catechism, or in some of your nursery school rhymes. Lets tackle something with a little meat on it. Let’s ask some of the hard questions that you don’t have answers for. READ and STUDY and figure things out. What you will find is that you will inevitably have MORE QUESTIONS…. When you find you do not have answers, then go and ask your pastor, or a clergy or lay person you trust.

You need to keep asking questions. My father used to say to people.. “What ever it is that you are ( meaning your faith ), then be the very best ( that faith person ) that you can be. Ask the hard questions, and keep asking them until you are satisfied with the answers.

John, is telling us in this passage, we need to realize the awesome gift that we have been given, as children of God. The reason we suffer persecution in the world is because they who are not Christian, do not recognize Jesus as the Son of God.

Further on in these letters John reminds his audience, to break from sin, to keep the commandments, to become detatched from the world ( be IN the world, but not OF the world.). and finally to be on guard against the enemies of Christ. By this he means to be weary of those who would try to lead you away from your faith.

Today, the world is in great need of saints. It is every single Christians vocation to be a great saint. It is up to us to choose to fulfill the plan that God has intended for us.

My prayer for each of you is that the Holy Spirit that dwells within your bosom be enflamed in your heart, and become a raging inferno in seeking Gods holy will and fulfilling it.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

Vocations.. and what it means to us as Christians.

April 26, 2015

Vocations.. and what it means to us as Christians.

This Sunday is commonly refered to as either Good SHepherd Sunday, ( because the readings of this week all center around the theme of Jesus as the Good Shepherd), or it is also called Vocations Sunday.

For the universal church, most of the average Catholics this means a calling to either the Priesthood, or religious life.
More recently, due to the fewer number of priests, the Diaconate has come to be included in that narrower view of the average person in the pew.  There are prayers for vocations to these areas, but this is only a very narrow view of what vocations are, and what they mean for each person.

Lets take a closer look at vocations in the all encompassing view.

Vocations in the secular view, are something you do for work.  Its a job that you train for , or out of necessity you take on.  After you have spent sometime doing this job or that, it is considered that this work is your vocation, and things you do for fun or enjoyment are commonly referred to as an “avocation” or something you do not do to make your “daily bread”or pay the bills with.

Now in the Christian view, a vocation is something totally different ( although it might appear to be the same thing outwardly).

A vocation is a calling from God, to take on some type of life work or service to the church universal.   A true vocation is something that the individual person is lead to, and is then subsequently confirmed by the church ( which would include both the majisterium and the laity).

You might ask yourself why this is.  Think of it this way.  We all have had a friend, or relative who believed that they could sing very well, but pretty much everyone else would disagree and run for cover or put on headphones to get away from.   It does no  good to say to that person that they should persue a musical career as a singer, if although they may love to sing, that they are  tone deaf and everytime they being to sing that even the dogs in the neighborhood start to howl.

Vocations are as unique as each person is and each person needs to have ears to hear.

A vocation can be to the priesthood, to religious life and the diaconate.  It can also be to being single, married, and to the terciary orders.

Not everyone is called to the priesthood, and by the same token, not everyone is called to enter the sacrament of Marriage.

Like those in religious life, or priesthood, a vocation to being single means that you are free to then serve Christ through others in the world, and in your daily life.

No matter what vocation you are called to, each of us is called to bring Christ into the world, according to our vocation and state.
In particular, I would like to take a moment to talk about the Terciary Orders ( THird Orders).

I grew up in a part of the country where no one had ever heard of Third orders.  No one in my family had learned of them, and I heard about them, because of the fact that while I was on a retreat, I met a young man who was a member of the Franciscan third Order ( Secular).

Although I have not ever met him again, I often wish that I had the oppotunity to thank him for not only sharing Christ with me, but introducing me to the Franciscans, and what would become my own vocation.
The terciary orders are full of people who are lay people, who live and work in the world.  We hold down jobs, and we have our own dwellings.  Some are married, some single, some priests or deacons.   All of whom follow a rule of life, and follow the Charims of their founder.

My personal vocation is to the Franciscan Charism.  It fits me like a glove.  Your vocation should be that way.  It should feel right, it should fit who you are.

If you are interested in the Franciscan Charism, I would like to invite you to find a community near you. Come and see..
If you feel like you are being called to more than just where ever you are in your life now.  Come and see …
If you love the Lord, and the church, and feel like there is something more for you…  Come and see..

Here is a website, with all of the National listings for each country as a starting point.

You can also ask your local Parish priest, or call your diocesean library for assistance.

May God give you the gift of His peace !


September 30, 2009

In todays Gospel, (Luke 9: 57)  The Lord proceeds on his Journey and there are several who ask to come and join him on his journey.   One guy says, Lord, I want to go with you, but I want to go bury my father.   The Lord tells him to let the dead bury the dead.  The next guy comes along, sees the Lord and says he wants to tag along too  but first he wants to go say goodbye to his family.   The Lord says No one who sets his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God.

OK, so this sounds pretty harsh considering even today, the human inclination would be to want to say goodbye to the family, at least if you werent fighting with them this week.  What about the guy with dead father ?   One of the corporal works for mercy is to bury the dead.. even if its not your dad !

As a side note, the corporal works of Mercy  are extracted from the Gospel of Matthew.  In this case on Judgement day when you get to account for yourself to God, these are the questions he is going to ask us …  I pray we can all get the answers right !

On the outset these responses seem a bit harsh.  Every one has issues .. Your spouse asks you to take out the trash..  you say alright dear right after I get done  picking this stuff up.   It’s not that the Lord does not want the man buried, its a matter of priorities.

In our daily lives we should spend our days breath oriented towards the praise and thanksgiving to God.   Its the little things.  Everyone  prays when things go bad, and some of them even when things are really good, or their prayer was answered.

When I was a younger man than I am, I met a friend of my mothers.  He and I struck up a converation about wildlife which is one of my hobbies.  He took me out to Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge , and proceded to show me all the wonderful varieties of birds that lived there.    Up to that point, they were just a bunch of different birds.  But he opened a door for me, showed me a beautiful part of God’s creation that I was unaware of and it was wonderful.  I too got to show him some of the animals and plants that I knew of, and his eyes were opened as well.

So it is with creation, and our lives within it.  Can we take a little time at different parts of the day, and thank God for the beauty and the majesty, and the simple gifts that He gives us every single day.   In the discipline and joy of that daily Thanksgiving I can promise that you will become more aware and your eyes will open to more and more of the ways within which God works in our daily life.