Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Vocations-To be Called by God…

Father John J. Lombardi

Recently a Mount St Mary's student group hosted a forum on vocations and five different folks spoke-and it was enlightening and engaging. Each speaker,--a religious sister, a married couple, a college student and a seminarian uniquely helped the audience understand how God calls us all to holiness, how we can discern God's call (thus the word vocation, from the Latin, vocare). I put these four "descriptors" to the following Vocation stories: Deepest joy; Surprises; Running from, and to God and Live outside the Box. So, here, briefly are some of details and key insights…

The first presenter was Sister Ann Higgins, a daughter of Charity of St Vincent DePaul-for thirty years. Turns out the night of our talks that it was her birthday! She spoke eloquently on how she grew up an only child and then deeply longed for community and living with others. So she joined a religious order and affirmed her calling, and then stressed how we must find and discern our deepest joy and align that with God's Will and live it out. She also said "we must get our feet wet"-by trying out in various ways options so as to gain proper judgment and active engagement in being called by God thru actual experiences and not just thoughts or word of mouth. Though it will not always be easy, Sr. Ann said, God will provide for you in your calling.

The second presenters were Dr's Josh and Paige Hochschild, a married couple with four children. They are both converts to the Catholic Faith and thought they were being called, while in graduate studies, to a-then life of semi-solitude in studies and books and great ideas and perhaps some kind of quiet vocation. They both got surprised, though. That's when they met each other and realized after only a few days that they were meant, by God, to spend their lives together. They weren't expecting this, to fall in love and be meant for marriage, as they had a bigger picture in mind (of studies, perhaps religious life) and wham, they got smitten to married life. God does that, surprise you, you now know, so be open!

The third speaker was Atlantan seminarian Tom Zahuta. He described how he thought he wanted to be married and after venturing out on his own, forming a successful life of business and independence felt, still, a kinda emptiness. Even though a then-nominal Catholic, he felt things were being "taken from him" (get this-this is how God works-in the details): his car antenna was stolen and the only radio station he could receive was a Bible-Christian radio station and he thereby learned more about God and the Bible! Then his superb golf talents were smitten and wavered, and so forth. He gradually realized, after more than a few people suggested he would make an excellent priest, that this might be his calling. After hearing from a deacon encouraging him, he decided to try out the seminary and , hopefully, become a priest!

Lastly was Kevin Hamilton. He described his pilgrimage to Africa and how he balked at the opportunity at first-because it was an "unknown" and a challenging experience, and yet how, eventually, he and other pilgrims helped out in mission work to street kids, homeless folks and the hospitalized. Once, while talking to an AIDS patient who was smiling and laughing during their encounter, and yet so sick, he realized how his own so-called "big problems' were so preoccupying-- stealing his joy-and yet this man with a severe sickness was so joyful. Kevin stressed how important it was to live outside our limitations, to challenge oneself into new ways of life so God can reveal to you strengths to build upon and weaknesses to refine. He mentioned how he was still discerning his call as a student-and, in no hurry-- and yet the need for different experiences to reveal God's Will for one's life…

So there you have it: some kernels of wisdom and insight from different walks of life to reveal God's sometimes mysterious Plan for life and building the Kingdom of God on earth and do His Will.

May these spiritual stories-and adventures-help you to discern how you can be holy in the here-and-now and choose a Path God wants you to!

The Creed: I was with a family recently and asked them what are the most important points about Catholicism? They answered, pretty spontaneously: The Nicene Creed (See below) and: Love God, Love neighbor. Great answers. So, now are some meditations on these answers beginning with the Nicene Creed itself…

The NICENE CREED: We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father by whom all things were made; who for us men, and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, and was made man, and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried, and the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father. And he shall come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end. And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified, who spoke by the prophets. And we believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Meditations on the Creed: We believe; though now on Sundays we usually pray in English "I believe…"-this will soon change to the collective "We believe". Why? Because we Catholics are a group, a unity, a spiritual family not some individualistic "I-centered" lone rangers. Translated: We are the Mystical Body of Christ and we believe together with the Church on earth (a billion other Catholics)-this is called "the Church Militant". We believe with the Church in purification (the Church-Expectant in Blessed purgatory); and we believe especially with the Church In Heaven (Church in Glory). So, when we pray the Creed we should be conscious of so many others with us, and that our belief is both a social belief and strength!

In God: We Catholics and Christians are not atheists. We believe in a "higher Power", in an uncreated Being; in a Force and Love, that ever was and ever will be. What does God's divinity consist in: Many theologians would say His uncreatedness; His simple Being-foreverness. We humans receive being from God and there was a time when we were not. But God does not receive being or essence or anything from anyone-He always was and always will be….So think of, and love Him for He is the Rock of ages-unlike people or anything else, He will never change or go away.

The Father Just what kind of God do you believe in? Answer-a personal God, a Trinity, a Lord of Divine community and extending-Unity. And, to add: God is Father, which implies generatively and action, assertion (unlike the feminine quality of birthing/conceiving). God, created the world and "images/begets" His Son, Jesus Christ and in this the masculine quality is shown and thus in our creed. God, though, is not literally a male, a guy with flesh. Rather He is kinda' like maleness in the above-mentioned attributes and He is omnipotent-strong, Almighty. Thus, we can rely on Him for His strength, for, obviously, we are sometimes weak and needy human beings. So trust in the Lord God's strength and continually ask for His help! He is mighty conqueror, He is Personal Father and strong enough to take any bruises and abrasions we want Him to shoulder and heal!

On Sufferings: I recently heard a priest say about trials and humiliations three pieces of advice: 1) don't lick your wounds too long; 2) don't think about your worries too much; 3) and ask: Why would I expect anything different?

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi