Vocations Sunday – Our Shared Vocation

This Sunday, 29th April, marks the 49th World Day of Prayer for Vocations.  Over the past number of years Vocations Ireland has held a number of national events to mark the day. This year the initiative is coming from some of the regional groups that form part of Vocations Ireland, as well as individual Orders and Dioceses who are planning liturgies, prayer services and pilgrimages to celebrate Vocations Sunday.

 Ttraditionally Vocations Sunday is a day of prayer for religious and priestly vocations and indeed, that is still the case.  However over the past number of years there has been an emphasis on the fact that, as Christians, we are all called to follow Christ, through our baptism.   Christians live that calling in many different ways.  Of late there seems to be a fear that in reflecting on the wider Christian vocation, we are in some way diluting the vocation of those called to religious life or priesthood. 

 I fail to see how this is the case.  I think there is a need to emphasis the vocation of those who follow Christ in ways other than religious life or priesthood, this, without doubt, was seriously neglected in the past.  In doing this we recognise the complementary nature of all vocations,  “.There is a variety of gifts but always the same Spirit; there are all sorts of service to be done, but always to the same Lord; working in all sorts of different ways in different people.”.  (1 Cor 12:4-11) I think for too long there has been a divide between the vocations, which does not enhance any of them.  Those who are called to religious life and priesthood, are called out of a Christian community that is itself called, without that basis we do not have authentic vocations.  The call to form Christian community, where different vocations can support and help to build up the body of Christ, which is the Church, support and encourage each other in faith and bring the good news of Jesus Christ to others, is the fundamental vocation.

 The vocation to be a sister, brother or priest in a religious order or diocese does not come out of a vacuum, except in rare cases, it is the result of  faith which has been passed on by others who have lived it in a way that prompts  a man or woman  to consider a life of total service back to that Christian community in which they have found Christ in the first place.  Ultimately no vocation is an end in itself and the bringing about of that kingdom of love, justice and peace, which Jesus Christ commanded us to do, is the shared vocation of all. 




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