August 10, 2010

How to Start Living Your Vocation

In today's office of readings (part of the Liturgy of the Hours),  we hear from St. Augustine, preaching about St. Laurence (whose feast day is today).

St. Augustine tells us all something important about vocation. When we talk about encouraging vocations, we are usually talking about vocation to the priesthood. This is absolutely vital, of course, and any family is blessed to bring up another of Christ's priests! This is not, however, the only vocation.


St. Augustine writes:
"The garden of the Lord, brethren, includes – yes, it truly includes – includes not only the roses of martyrs but also the lilies of virgins, and the ivy of married people, and the violets of widows. There is absolutely no kind of human beings, my dearly beloved, who need to despair of their vocation; Christ suffered for all. It was very truly written about him: who wishes all men to be saved, and to come to the acknowledgement of the truth.

So let us understand how Christians ought to follow Christ, short of the shedding of blood, short of the danger of suffering death.... Christ humbled himself: you have something, Christian, to latch on to. Christ became obedient. Why do you behave proudly? After running the course of these humiliations and laying death low, Christ ascended into heaven: let us follow him there. Let us listen to the Apostle telling us, If you have risen with Christ, savour the things that are above us, seated at God’s right hand."
We are all unified in one vocation "to holiness and to the mission of evangelizing the world" [CCC 1533] but to our individual vocations as well. There are not just martyrs but also virgins, married people, and widows; priests, religious, married, and single. Each of us is called to do our part in God's plan of salvation. What does Saint Augustine advise we do? We are to humble ourselves, as Christ did. We are to be obedient, as Christ was obedient. We are to rise - spiritually and mentally first, then physically in time - with Christ.

Is there a teaching of the Church that gives you difficulty? Pray, first, for humility to obey Christ's Church. After that - after obeying humbly - seek to understand. (Some good starting points are a keyword search in the Catechism or Catholic.com's faith tracts. Eucharistic questions galore can be answered at The Real Presence.)

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