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August 2021 VISION E-Vocation Newsletter

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Discernment Matters
The choices of a lifetime


On a recent Sunday, a homilist told the story of his own vocation. At the conclusion of each phase of seminary training, there was always a ritual moment when the names of those moving forward in the process were spoken in the assembly. Each time the hopeful seminarian heard his name pronounced, he stood and responded with a single word: "Present!" 

This ritual of acceptance was repeated across the years with the same rich word. What does it mean for any of us to be present to the call? First, of course, we must embrace preparation. For those in ordained or religious vocations, this can mean years of formal academic study, along with personal formation guided by a spiritual director. But for any disciple, preparation involves prayer and community, biblical reflection and sacrifice. All of us stand each year at the Easter liturgies and give our version of "Present!" when we say of the powers of darkness: "I do renounce them." We also say of the powers of light: "I do believe." These two public declarations make us fully present to the task of following Jesus.

Being present to discipleship also means developing a sensitivity to the movement of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Are we being summoned at this time to witness for justice and against exploitation? Is it time to surrender something: time, resources, prejudices, our comfort zone? Presence to the call means being present to this hour of history. What must goodness do today?

—Alice Camille,
reprinted with permission from TrueQuest Communications

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VISION 2022: Bring your vocation to light


DURING THE 16th-CENTURY PROTESTANT Reformation, Catholicism was outlawed in Great Britain. In response, Catholics simply kept their faith and their pastoral leaders hidden. A network of safe houses sprung up across the British Isles for traveling clergy and religious, who were often stashed in secret compartments, or priest holes, when Crown authorities came knocking. Jesuit Brother Nicholas Owen was a chief architect of many of these ingenious concealed spaces, some of which are still being uncovered. Unfortunately, Owen wasn’t able to keep himself safely out of the law’s reach, and in 1606, he was captured, tortured, and put to death in the Tower of London. He was canonized as a martyr in 1970 by Pope Paul VI.

No one sets out to “put the light of their faith under a bushel basket,” but sometimes circumstances require it. The same holds true for our vocations. Often in the early phases of discernment, we would be ill-advised to share our plans with too many others. We need time to pray, seek wise counsel, and truly listen to where God is calling us.

But for each of us there comes a time to bring our vocation to light. This issue of VISION captures just that moment for the featured sisters, nuns, brothers, and priests who now gladly shine a light on their life choice because they “are responding to something deeply personal that they sense will be the meaning-making core of their life,” as theologian Sister Sandra Schneiders, I.H.M. describes it.

The vocation to religious life is not without its frustrations, disappointments, and sorrows, but it also comes with a deep sense of place, satisfaction, and joy that the life you’ve committed to is worth living and the faith you confess is worth dying for.

— Patrice J. Tuohy, VISION Publisher

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© 2020, TrueQuest Communications
published on behalf of the National Religious Vocation Conference