We all have one thing in common: God calls
Because cell phones have become so ubiquitous, many public spaces are now offering regular reminders about the necessity to silence or shut them off. A few years ago, we began offering a similar reminder before each Mass. A humorous form of this spoken reminder goes like this: “We do hope that God calls you during this liturgy, but it probably won’t be on your cell phone...” While I can’t take credit for the wording of that reminder, it often gets more than a few chuckles from the assembly. Hopefully, what folks are chuckling about is that God uses a variety of means, some of them perhaps unlikely, to issue a call to the faithful. I sincerely hope that folks aren’t chuckling because they think that God may not be calling them – no matter what means God might use to communicate with them.
When I think back on how I sensed and finally responded to my own vocational call from God, I realize that God’s call came to me through a variety of both likely and unlikely means. Certainly, my parents and other family members were among those conduits for God’s vocational call, but so were some unlikely folks like teachers and co-workers who had no particular attachment to the Catholic church. I also know that I became aware of God’s call to me very early in my life – around the age of seven or eight. That call was a recurring, and sometimes relentless, theme that presented itself during my prayer over a number of years. God’s insistence through a variety of means finally wore down my resistance. Rather than ignoring it, I began to explore what a life of service within the church would mean. Soon, there would come internal, prayerful confirmation of God’s call, as well as external support from those who would help bring insight and clarity to my discernment process.
At certain points along the path of discernment, I found it nearly beyond my ability to comprehend that God was calling me to a life of service within the church. After all, my discernment had made me aware of both my gifts and shortcomings. With my own unique limitations and failings, could God still want me to follow the path that would lead to priesthood? Family, friends, co-workers and trusted priest-guides helped me to see beyond my self-imposed limitations to a life of faithful and fulfilling service.
In this month’s issue, you will meet a collection of people who have felt similar calls to service within the church, as laypeople and as those who are ordained. Their calls from God have taken many different forms. Those calls and their individual responses have led them on unique paths to a variety of states of life by which they offer their own God-given gifts and skills in service of the church. Each one is unique and yet all have one thing in common: God called; they answered.
It can be scary to think that God is calling each of us to serve the church in a unique and beautiful way. Sometimes we are too aware of our faults and failings. Sometimes we would rather run away from God than take a leap of faith into the unknown. Yet, when we trust God and rely on both internal and external confirmation of his call, there exists the possibility of lives lived in loving service of God’s kingdom in any state of life to which God might guide us. And so, our journey in FAITH continues.