Vocations a reminder of God’s presence

| Archbishop Bernard Hebda | June 8, 2017

My sister recently let me know that we here in the archdiocese get 90 more minutes of light each day at this time of year than she gets in Florida. I was grateful that she pointed out to me a subtle gift from God that I would otherwise have taken for granted. Unfortunately, it’s far too easy to take for granted the many reminders of God’s love that we encounter every day.

For example, as a diocese, we recently celebrated the ordination of the 10 new priests that you are reading about in this issue of The Catholic Spirit. They are gifted young men who are dedicating their lives to the service of Christ and this local Church. With nine men ordained last year and seven the year before, it’s easy to lose sight of what an extraordinary blessing it is for the archdiocese to have 10 ordinations in one year.

I felt blessed to see in them the same generosity that I had sensed when I recently gathered for Mass with our priest jubilarians. I was humbled as we spoke about the joys and challenges that they had experienced in their many years of priesthood, and I realized the extraordinary role that these men and so many others have played in the life of this archdiocese. Generation after generation, the Lord has blessed us with priests and deacons dedicated to spreading the Gospel, celebrating the sacraments and reminding us of what God can accomplish through us when we say “yes” to his call.

That God would call each of us to serve his Church in some capacity is a gift beyond imagining. Each vocation is an extravagant sign of God’s love, not only for those who are called, but also for the community of which they are a part. When lived authentically, a vocation is a startling reminder of God’s presence in this world.

I recently sat at a table with a lovely couple, Al and Mary, who have been married longer than I’ve been alive. Mary assured me that she would gladly say “I do” to Al today if they weren’t already married. The Lord’s presence was palpable as I witnessed the tenderness with which they continued to care for each other after all these years. As a local Church, we’re blessed by all the Als and Marys who live out their marriage as a vocation, as a call to holiness, reminding us on a daily basis of the intense and intimate love that Christ has for his Church.

Earlier that same day, I had the privilege of presiding at the funeral of Brother David Barth, the last of the Christian Brothers teaching (for now) at DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis. I was intrigued by the attentiveness of the large number of students who participated in the funeral that day and who obviously had great fondness and respect for Brother David.

The provincial of the Christian Brothers read from a letter that Brother David had written some 55 years earlier to his predecessor: “Dear Brother Visitor, I request to be admitted to take vows. I know what they mean, perhaps not perfectly, but well enough to want them more than anything else and for always. I am now ever the more positive that God has called me to be a Christian Brother, and my one wish is to be allowed to consecrate myself to him by vows as a member of the Brothers of the Christian Schools.”

For more than five decades, Brother David had a profound impact on his students and colleagues precisely because of his response to the Lord’s call. His quiet testimony, lived out in a classroom day in and day out, provided this local Church with a concrete experience of Christ’s love and of the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience that Jesus himself had embraced. How blessed we have been as an archdiocese through the many consecrated women and men who, like Brother David, have taught in our schools, served in our hospitals, animated our parishes and ministries or dedicated their lives to contemplative prayer.

Each year on Pentecost, we pray that God will pour out the gifts of the Holy Spirit across the face of the earth and, “with the divine grace that was at work when the Gospel was first proclaimed, fill now once more the hearts of believers.” This year, let us ask for the grace of being more aware of — and grateful for — the spiritual gifts that have been poured out in such abundance and variety on this archdiocese, rather than taking them for granted.

May we fervently pray, moreover, that our hearts, filled with the Holy Spirit, might be more responsive to whatever vocational path to holiness our God has lovingly chosen for us, trusting that our daily “yes” can bring renewed life to this local Church.

View photos from the ordination Mass on Facebook

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