MOSAIC Fall 2016 - Page 33

LIVING IN THE LIGHT Spirituality for the Lay Person A Call Within a Call Dr. Patricia Cooney Hathaway M any of us grew up with two misconceptions about the meaning of vocation within the Catholic Church. First, “having a vocation” applied only to priests and religious. Second, God had a hidden, secret plan for each of us that we somehow had to discover. Both are false. Vatican II corrected the first by explaining that all of us by our baptism have a vocation to holiness and mission. Let’s explore the second misconception through the following story. At a conference on spiritual direction, a priest shared the following experience about a young man discerning his vocation through a directed retreat. He is drawn to the priesthood, yet also desires to marry and raise a family. After several days of prayer, the young man becomes increasingly frustrated. God is silent. Finally, he comes to the director, surprised yet relieved, and says, “It’s up to me. God said whatever way I want to return the gift of my life is fine with God.” The point of this story is that God does not have a preconceived plan regarding our lives. Rather, God invites, God plants a desire within us and we are free to respond or choose another path. Here God asked the young man, what do you desire? How do you want to return the gift of your life to me? Instead of trying to discover God’s plan for his life, the young man was free to explore his true desires, aided by the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, regarding his vocation. I suggest the same was true for Mother Teresa of Calcutta. At the age of twelve, Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu “was moved by a desire” to become a missionary. At the age of eighteen, she left home in 1928 to join A widower who finds himself desiring to the Sisters of Loreto in Ireland. At her reliserve God as a priest; a married man with gious profession, she received the name Sr. Mary Teresa after St. Thérèse of Lisieux. a family who discerns a growing desire to In 1931, she departed for India where she apply for the diaconate; a single woman was assigned to teach at St. Mary’s School with a thriving professional life and a happily married wife and mother—both of for Girls in Calcutta. whom experience a longing to serve God She describes these years as ones of profound happiness, fidelity, and joy—a sign and the Church as lay ecclesial ministers. These people are all examples of how God of God’s confirmation of her vocation. On September 10, 1946, during a train is working through our deepest desires. A vocation is not a static, once-in-a-liferide from Calcutta to Darjelling for her annual retreat, she received what she calls time call that never changes. It dynamically “an inspiration, a call within a call.” On unfolds throughout the course of our lives. In his book Theology of Ministry, Dr. that day, Jesus’ thirst for souls took hold of her in a profound way. Over the course of Edward Hahenberg brings clarity to the experience of these men and women by the next few months, Jesus revealed to her describing three levels his desire for her to “raof the vocation process. diate his love in souls.” “Come be my light,” Each found expression “Come be my light,” in Mother Teresa’s life, he begged her. “I canhe begge