Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Called to Life
Summary of the Bar Lunch Talk, 26th October 2008, given by Jo Gilbert

“If you are who you are made to be you will set the world on fire”
St Catherine of Sienna

The theme of calling is at the very heart of the Christian life. But even more fundamentally, calling is central to what it is to be a human being: as St Catherine of Sienna puts it, calling is about becoming “who you are made to be”. In the coming week, the ‘Called By Name’ Workshops will explore this theme in greater depth, asking the questions:
- Who am I made to be?
- Where am I going?
- What is the purpose and meaning of my life?

We often have many misconceptions about the idea of calling or ‘vocation’: that it is just for the few, only about the priesthood and religious life, or merely about something we do: a job, function or role.

Perhaps the most important discovery we can make about vocation is that we are all called, without exception, and given a unique name and identity by God.

So what do we mean by ‘vocation’? It can be helpful to understand vocation in three dimensions:
1) The Personal Vocation. This is about ‘who I am’: coming to a deep knowledge of ourselves, and discovering that we are uniquely called by name. Principally this is about ‘being’, rather than ‘doing’.
2) The task/mission/work/career: i.e. the ‘doing’ bit.
3) The state of life: the concrete commitment and context in which we respond to God. This might be marriage, consecrated life (religious life or priesthood), or single life.

The Bishops of Europe outlined the Theology of Vocation in a document called ‘New Vocations for a New Europe’ (In Verbo Tuo). They said:
“Just as holiness is for all the baptised in Christ, so there exists a specific vocation for every living person; and just as the first is rooted in Baptism, so is the second connected to the simple fact of existing. The vocation is the providential thought of the Creator for each creature, it is his idea-plan, like a dream found in God's heart, because the creature is found in his heart. God the Father wants this to be different and specific for each living person.
“Vocation is the divine invitation to self-realisation according to [the image of the Creator who has called us into life; each vocation] is unique-singular-unrepeatable precisely because this image is inexhaustible. Every creature expresses and is called to express a particular aspect of the thought of God. There he finds his name and his identity; he affirms and ensures his freedom and originality.”

The Called By Name Workshop will offer a space to reflect more deeply on this theme and to set out on a journey of hearing and embracing our unique calling.

Finally, John Paul II frequently asked the questions ‘what is your idea of man?’ and ‘what makes up the dignity and greatness of a human being?’ He urged us:
“Do not be afraid! Do not be afraid of your own youth, and of those deep desires you have for happiness, for truth, for beauty and for lasting love! The future lies in your hands. You must be people with a deep trust in man and a deep trust in the grandeur of the human vocation. Ask yourselves what kind of people you want yourselves and your fellow human beings to be”.

Called By Name Workshop:

Thursday 30th October @ 7:30pm in the Seminar Room @ Newman House
Sunday 2nd November @ 5pm in the Sitting Room @ Newman House
Thursday 6th November @ 6pm @ LSE

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