As I was wondering what to talk about for this year’s Come & See weekend I placed it into Our Lord’s hands, and what keeps popping into my mind has been Vocations and vocation discernment.
As we are all aware and know fully, the word vocation comes from the latin word vocare which means ‘to call’. This call is placed as a seed within our hearts and we sometimes need to follow this up which can be quite daunting and challenging especially these days. We live in a society where everything is disposable or if you’re not satisfied you go after something else. The only thing that can truly satisfy our lives is living to the fullest the will of God whatever that may turn out to be. A vocation is more often than not depicted as a vocation to the priesthood or religious life but that is no so, it could mean a person’s job, marital status – I think that sometimes we forget that married life and the single life are just as much a vocation as priesthood and religious life. For the Christian a vocation is not just something that God calls us to do, it is also the person God calls us to be. When Jesus called his first disciples by the lake of Galilee it wasn’t just so that they could help him in his work, it was so that their lives could be transformed through his friendship and love. We have been called to follow Christ, the Son of God who came to save us and to lead us back to heaven with him. He has sent his Holy Spirit so that we can share in his divine life even now, and express that life by trying to love him and to love our neighbour.
However, I am not going to go on and try and persuade you to follow the first two vocations, but I do want to try and say something to help you over this long weekend to think about a religious vocation whether it be here at Colwich as a contemplative Benedictine Nun or in some other community.
So where shall I start, it is here that each and everyone of us has a vocation and that is to the call of holiness, we might say that holiness is not something for us but how wrong we can be on this matter it has everything to do with us and it is not un-reachable. It is sought after in the day to day circumstances of our lives no matter what that may be, in our monastery that obviously is through our life of prayer both private and communal (that is with the recitation of the divine office). But it goes a lot deeper than that, it is also through our daily manual labour which St. Benedict asks us to do – as he quotes from scripture that ‘idleness is the enemy of the soul’. As Benedictines we don’t take the evangelical counsels as our vows, but take rather : STABILITY, CONVERSION OF LIFE, AND OBEDIENCE.
Discernment is very much a word which is used now with regards a vocation and it is one in which is described as ‘listening to God’, so it is kind of ironic really that you are here this weekend and the opening words of St. Benedict in his Rule at the prologue are: LISTEN MY CHILD TO THE WORDS OF YOUR FATHER.
We can usually say something like: ‘I think God is calling me to do ……..’, sometimes it does mean that God is speaking directly to us via someone else or through circumstances or perhaps through scripture or other reading, it may be clear and dramatic, but it may also not be so.