Being Called: the Three Parties to a Vocation

The Mass readings for today (the call of Samuel in 1 Samuel 3, and the call of Andrew and Simon Peter in John 1) always make me think about the nature of vocation, especially the nature of a vocation to the priesthood or consecrated life.

I hope that we are great encouragers of vocation here at Howton Grove, but people sometimes react with indignation when we remind them of an important truth. There are always three parties to a priestly or religious vocation: God, the individual, and the community (i.e. the Church). Without God’s initiative, there can be no call; without the individual, there can be no response; and without the Church’s discernment and acceptance, there can be no realisation of the call-response of an individual vocation. We may feel that we are called by God to be or do something, but we have to lay that sense of calling before the Church. That part of the process is often overlooked or regarded as unimportant, whereas in reality it is crucial and must be accompanied by much thought and prayer on all sides. It can be quite devastating to the individual if the Church’s response is not the one hoped for or expected; and it can be quite devastating to the Church if insufficient care is given to the selection and training of candidates.

Please join us today in praying for those who are discerning a vocation, those who are trying to help them and bear the responsibility of ‘testing the spirits, to see whether they are from God’, and those who have gone away sad, feeling rejected and unable to accept that the Lord may be asking something different from what they had hoped or believed he was asking.