" A person knows he/she has found his/her vocation when he/she stops thinking about how to live and begins to live. " Bishop O'Connell quoting Thomas Merton

The Word of God reminds each of us in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah: “You are my servant; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. Do not be afraid for I am with you” (Isaiah 41: 9-10).

This Sunday, April 25, is World Day of Prayer for Vocations, a day that coincides with Good Shepherd Sunday.  As Catholics, we are all asked to encourage young people in particular to consider dedicating their lives to follow the Lord Jesus in a special way through priesthood, diaconate, and consecrated religious life ... and to pray for them.  But, in order to “consider,” to “dedicate,” to “follow” the Lord, you must first listen for his call.

It comes in the ordinary moments of your daily life when you recognize something deep inside urging you to do more with your life to demonstrate God’s incredible love for his people. Perhaps it is serving the poor; perhaps it is teaching the young; perhaps it is making the Gospel and your faith more concrete by your personal witness. There are so many ways the Church offers you to make God’s grace and presence felt among God’s people. Is God calling you to pursue a vocation in the Church? 

Of course, the vocation of Christian marriage and family life is a most beautiful calling, and the Church lifts up that Sacrament for the vast majority of women and men. For others, the single life is their vocation. But what better place is there than in the Catholic family and home for young people to hear God’s voice? The love of husband and wife, of father and mother, of brothers and sisters is a motivation for and model of the love Christ seeks from priests, deacons and consecrated religious.

Pope Francis has told us that “a vocation flows from the heart of God and blossoms in the good soil of faithful people ... (it is) first and foremost a call to love, a love which attracts us and draws us out of ourselves.”

God calls ordinary, normal, good, faithful people to love him and others in an extraordinary way as a priest, deacon or consecrated religious. Your response, your “yes” takes sacrifice, for sure. But most good and important things in life do.

If you think you might have a vocation in the Church, pray about it ... talk to someone about it. If you think someone you know has a vocation in the Church, tell him/her, suggest it ... share this article. So many young people over the years have responded to my vocation suggestion, saying, “No one ever asked me.” Well, God is asking ... the Church is asking ... your Bishop is asking.

If the possibility of a vocation has crossed your mind, check out our Diocese’s vocation website at www.godiscallingyou.org. Another good site is: www.vocationnetwork.org. Don’t be afraid to follow up.

Some people may ask, “Who would ever want to be a priest, a deacon, a religious sister or brother” in these difficult days in the Church?  I would counter that there has never been a better, more critically important time for good people of faith to step forward and make a difference. I remember R&B artist Billy Ocean sing back in the 80s, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” True then, true now.

The sign of the Holy Spirit at work in your life is joy and peace. Think about it.

The great spiritual author and monk Thomas Merton once wrote something that I think about when it comes to a vocation: “A person knows he/she has found his/her vocation when he/she stops thinking about how to live and begins to live.” If not you, who? If not now, when?  Please, pray for and encourage vocations.