Living one’s vocation is an ongoing encounter with God

| Archbishop Bernard Hebda | June 23, 2016
Archbishop Bernard Hebda

Archbishop Bernard Hebda

It shouldn’t be surprising that vocations are on my mind. In addition to the countless young men and women who have entered into Christian marriage on recent weekends, the last two months have seen the ordination of new transitional deacons and priests for the archdiocese, some ordinations for our religious communities of men, and the final profession of two young women as Handmaids of the Heart of Jesus in the Diocese of New Ulm. I’m always inspired when I witness young people with such trust in God’s love, giving themselves without reserve to the vocation that God in his great love has chosen for them.

In each of those instances, that gift of self is, no surprise, a gift for life. Like Christ’s gift of his own life to the Church, it is a gift that is intended to be irrevocable and permanent. Modern sociologists and observers of our culture note how difficult it is today for people to make lasting commitments. That is what makes it all the more striking when a young couple stands before the Church and joyfully promises to love each other, honor each other and to be true to each other “in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health” all the days of their lives, or when a young man to be ordained or a woman about to make her profession lies prostrate on the church floor in a gesture that so beautifully symbolizes a total death to one’s self, a complete and irrevocable gift of all that one is and has.

In these same recent weeks, this local Church has been blessed to celebrate not only the annual Archdiocesan Marriage Day at the Cathedral, gathering couples from around the archdiocese who were celebrating significant wedding anniversaries, but also the jubilee Mass for our priests.

In both instances, our jubilarians gave eloquent witness to what God is able to accomplish when we, with all of our weaknesses and failings, take the risk of making those lifelong commitments. There is a strength and a resilience that comes from believing that a vocation is not merely our choice or a passing preference but a true calling at the core of our being that is sourced in God’s loving plan for us, for our Church and for the world.

Given the magnitude of the commitment, the Church, in her wisdom, tries to offer to the young man or young woman the formation that they need to discern and accept that challenge and to persevere in their calling. I am so grateful to those in our parishes and archdiocese who are so generous with their time in helping our engaged couples prepare not just for a wedding but for a lifelong marriage. I have deep appreciation, as well, for all those engaged in forming our candidates for consecrated life, or for the diaconate or the priesthood — and that circle extends far wider than our seminaries and religious houses.

Many of you, for example, will have seminarians in your parish this summer. The program is designed so that they will have realistic experiences of parish life, having the opportunity to see up close not only the diocesan priesthood but also the beauty of the vocations to married life and the various forms of consecrated life.

At the same time, the seminary will be asking many of you to offer insights into the seminarian’s preparedness to embrace a lifelong commitment of service as a diocesan priest and to provide feedback to the seminarian so that he might be better prepared to discern his vocation and assume the responsibilities of priestly ministry.

At a recent gathering of the bishops of the United States, Cardinal Luis Tagle of Manila, Philippines, reminded us that we would do well to speak of a “calling” rather than a “call,” given that vocation is more than a one-time event — it’s an ongoing encounter with the Lord and his love that requires a daily response. I suspect that if we asked those couples celebrating golden anniversaries, or those priests or consecrated men and women celebrating golden jubilees, we would hear accounts of a lifetime of “yeses” to the Lord’s invitations and plenty of stories of God’s mercy.

Please join me in thanking the Lord for their witness to his grace and in asking his blessing on those who are struggling to be faithful to their callings, his healing and hope for those who have felt unsupported in their calling or unable to persevere, and the light of his truth for those still discerning.

Vivir la propia vocación es un encuentro continuo con Dios

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Category: Only Jesus

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