By Father Ritche Bueza, Director of Vocations
In his message for the 2020 World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Francis said that “Every vocation is born of that gaze of love with which the Lord came to meet us… We will succeed in discovering and embracing our vocation once we open our hearts in gratitude and perceive the passage of Gospel in our lives.”
I think that there’s a tendency for many of us to interpret as vocation the careers that we have chosen, or perhaps, the way of life that we have embraced, such as getting married, staying single, or serving a church in a ministerial capacity. And why not, when in most cases we choose them with varying depths of discernment to ensure that the right choice or decision is made.
I used to think of vocation in the same way. I really thought I’d already answered God’s call in my life right after my ordination. But as I continue to live the day to day reality of being a priest, this is when I start realizing what God’s call is in my life – the constant embracing of all aspects of my ministries as an expression of God’s love.
I’ve heard similar observations from married people – loving their spouses and their children is being aware of receiving God’s constant parental care and guidance in their lives. And I’m sure that people who ended up with different careers have felt the same way too. Doctors and nurses do more than just treat their patients to health; it is the realization of their love for life as their driving force. Architects, engineers, scientists, carpenters, accountants, artists, teachers and students – all of us, are constantly being called into our own vocation in life. Vocation is not something to strive for, rather, it is something that is always present but needing awareness in our daily life.
When it comes to vocation awareness, Mother Teresa, I believe, offers the perfect blueprint. Her vocation was not just being a nun, rather it was seeing God’s eyes in the people that she served as “the gaze of love with which the Lord came to meet” her.
Following her lead might be daunting at first glance, but all it takes is a simple act of listening with our hearts to answer God’s call in our lives. It is in allowing ourselves to pause for a few moments to observe the world around us, to pay attention to every person that we meet, that we can be aware of God’s gaze all around us, enfolding us, and empowering us to live our vocation at every given moment of our lives.
On Good Shepherd Sunday, our Diocese celebrated the 57th World Day of Prayer for Vocations. We gathered for a Holy Hour and the celebration of the Eucharist to give thanks for the gift of vocation – may it be priesthood, religious life, married life, or single blessedness. On that day, we were reminded of Pope Francis’ invitation not just to pray, but also to listen and recognize the voice of the Shepherd who calls us to create a culture of vocations. Towards the end, we celebrated the May Crowning of Mary as Mother of Vocations. We ask that through her intercession we may continue to follow in the footsteps of the holy men and women in answering the call of Jesus, the true and only Good Shepherd.