Something for Vocations Sunday 2016

The oratory at Howton Grove Priory, Eastertide 2016
The oratory at Howton Grove Priory, Eastertide 2016

I wonder how many people today will hear a homily that speaks of the wonder and joy of a vocation to priesthood or consecrated (old-time, religious) life? How many will hear one that speaks of the importance of marriage or family life, of the beautiful but often difficult vocation of those called to be single, or indeed anything beyond a dutiful bidding prayer that somehow mixes up sheep, shepherds and labourers in vineyards? I ask because I am convinced of the supreme value of knowing, loving and serving God and would like everyone to find joy in the things of the Spirit and in the fulfilment of their unique call from God.

The Fourth Sunday of Easter is a good day for reflecting on our own own vocation and, in addition to praying for others, thinking and praying about how we ourselves have responded to God’s call in the past, and how we should respond in the future. Have we helped or hindered others in following Christ? Is there something more that the Lord asks of us? Are we ready to listen, or do we want to turn a deaf ear?

I myself am a Benedictine, and a very happy Benedictine at that, yet part of me wishes I had been graced with the vocation  of a Carthusian or hermit so I could live ‘alone with the Alone’. I say that without any rose-tinted misconceptions about the demands of the eremitical life. I only just scrape by as a coenobite and would never manage as a hermit. But God is, and I pray always will be, the most important person in my life — which is why I am a nun, why I am enthusiastic about monastic life in general and the life of this community in particular, and why I want to share its blessings with as many people as possible.

Sometimes a visual image can help, so the photo at the beginning of this post shows the altar-end of our oratory while the one below shows the choir-end. Our oratory is a plain and workman-like space, as monastic life itself is plain and workman-like. There is careful attention to detail, but nothing fussy or superfluous. It is the most important part of the monastery, and I think it is eloquent of how we understand Benedictine life and try to live it. If it is a terible thing to fall into the hands of the living God, as the Letter to the Hebrews says, it is also, as the saints assure us, the most delightful. May God draw many to experience his love and mercy, to savour the sweetness of the Lord and be his true disciples.

The choir-end of the oratory at Howton Grove Priory
The choir end of the oratory at Howton Grove Priory

I give below links to a few previous posts on vocation which, together with the information on our main website, www.benedictinenuns.org.uk (www.benedictinenuns.net for small-screen devices) and our Facebook page, may prove helpful. I hope so.

Some Posts about Vocation

Praying for Vocations

Vocation and Reality

Further Thoughts on Vocation

A Few Thoughts on Discernment

Always Discerning, Never Deciding

Vocations Sunday

A Gap in the Market for Meaning: Vocations Sunday 2015

 

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4 thoughts on “Something for Vocations Sunday 2016”

  1. Sister Catherine, thank you for your blog, which I find thought-provoking, amusing, and often challenging. Sometimes, all the above in one posting!
    Now, at the end of the day (in Australia) I ask myself the questions you ask in your 2nd paragraph. No answers- yet.
    In our parish prayers were asked for ” ordained, married, single and religious vocations” and for those contemplating their call to these vocations. I did ponder that “religious” were last in the list on the several occasions this prayer was spoken?! I guess it doesn’t matter, as long as we can say, along with you, “… God is,… the most important person in my life…
    Easter Blessings!

  2. Well today is my 60th birthday and I plan to celebrate with my friends with Sing-along S of M . Spent years wondering what God was calling me to and now I care full time for my partner with MS and my 5 year old granddaughter so I guess this is it!! Enjoy your day

  3. Thank you – spot on yet again (according to moi!) I can’t remember the last time I heard a sermon about being called to be an engineer/accountant/computer programmer, but each of us have our own unique calling and each are just as important in God’s world. A world full of nuns and priests doesn’t QUITE bear thinking about!!! (speaking as a priest, before someone thinks I’m being disrespectful!) I’ll say a loud AMEN to praying for those who don’t yet know they are called by name. Thank you Sister…

  4. Our sermon this morning was similar to how you describe vocation – living out your life in the Grace of Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd – and listening to and for his call.

    Of course some mention was made of vocation to a particular calling, but more important seemed to be the listening and really listening for how God might use us, not necessarily our main vocational employment, but in some other way allied with it or around it, which serves others as well as God.

    It took me a while to understand that point, given my own history if different vocational employment, but I could see the point that vocations or call with change, develop as God’s plan evolves – now clear that nothing is set in stone changes if always, challenging and formative.

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