Monday, August 28, 2006
Some Religious Vocations
From time to time people comment that I seem to focus on priestly vocations to the exclusion of all others. Recently someone even accused me of not taking seriously the vocation to marriage. In answer to this, and with my parish priest's hat on, I would say that over the last ten years I have personally prepared about four hundred couples for marriage. I don't think any of them would say that I failed to present it as a vocation! But the truth is that marriage promotes itself - and I don't run a dating agency!
I am more sympathetic to the claim that I don't seem to do much to promote vocations to religious orders. Here I think it's worth making a number of points. First of all my job is explicitly to promote vocations to the diocesan priesthood. It makes sense that the little time I have should be dedicated to this task.
Secondly, I'm not a religous. The best person to advicse on a religious vocation is someone already living that vocation from the inside. Recently someone asked me about a call to Franciscan life. I could and did encourage that person to pray and be open to God's will. I also encouraged them to take the next step which is to talk to a Franciscan and try to visit their community and get involved in its apostolates.
My third comment would be that the mere fact of talking about God's call will inevitably result in some religious vocations. I would like everyone to ask God prayerfully what role he has for them. What does he want them to do with their lives? When this happens I am sure there will be many more vocations, both religious and secular, and many couples will see their married love in terms of a specific path to holiness, not just an emotional attraction.
Just in case anyone doesn't believe me when I say that I am not just trying to fill our diocesan seminary let me mention that three women from this parish have joined religious orders in the last ten years. The first photo on this post is one of my former altar servers, now a brother with the Community of St John (whose founder died a couple of days ago requiescat in pace). Sr Jacinthe OP is currently in contact with a young girl thinking of religious life whom I recently referred to her. The third photo is a sister from the Beatitudes community in France. It is a secular institute rather than a religous order - but the habit's quite impressive!