There seems to be a World Day or International Day for just about everything, some stranger than others (apparently the 15th of April is “That Sucks Day”). So why have a World Day of Prayer for Vocations – and more importantly, why should we care about it anymore than any other World Day?
Well, because we all have a Vocation – a calling to serve God and others. Now, that may sound like an overly-spiritual, Church-ey sort of thing. And yes, in a formal sense we might interpret it this way as it takes shape in one’s commitment to be Ordained (as priests or deacons), or Consecrated (as Religious brothers, sisters or nuns), or Married or to remain Single Life in total service to the Church and others. But there’s a reality in all our lives where there are opportunities to live this life beyond “me”. Our vocation is the best version of ourselves, it’s about being “who” and “what” I am in a way that impacts the lives of others and influences the world.
That might seem like a grand vision that’s distant from the reality of our lives. Yet as uni students, regardless of what we’re studying, our lives are constantly in contact with others: on campus, at home, at work, in our families, in our relationships. We have impact on that circle of influence, both in large and small ways, through the way we live our life.
I’m engaged, so for me my vocation is my relationship with my fiancée. I’m going to be married which means I will share a home, a lifestyle, a future, in an intensely exclusive way with one other person. My vocation as a husband will impact others: my friends, my workmates, those I study with, my existing family and the family I’m about to create. That impact is through the lifestyle we’ll live as husband and wife, through the stories I share with others about my day-to-day life, through upholding the values of love and family I share with my fiancée.
As I work my way through my last semester at uni, I’ve come to a place where I’ve realised what I’ve studied is now a big part of who I am, and a huge chuck of the knowledge I operate out of in my relationship and in my work. Yet, for a long time (there were many breaks of deferment along the way) when I was single and volunteering or working part-time, my degree was more a burden than a vision for my future. This time in our lives, where it feels like we’re years away from making major commitments or decisions about our future, is exactly when we’re building ourselves up for those commitments.
On the other hand, some of us know exactly who we are and where we’re going, and have done for a long time. My fiancée knew since high school that she would be married and would become a parent and even was set on her current career path as a social worker. This whole “figuring out my calling” thing can seem redundant. Yet, my fiancée still had crucial moments along the way that prepared her and shaped her for our engagement now and for her current work. And even now being engaged and working in her chosen field, there is still a journey forward as we dream about what our life together could look like; and as she continues to shape her career path.
And so we see that vocation isn’t a one-time decision. It’s not just the choice of a career path. It is a journey: a journey that invites us to learn about ourselves in relation to others, to the world, and if we’re daring, learning about ourselves in relation to God. So that’s why we’re invited to pray on this World Day of Prayer for Vocations: to pray for our own journey and to pray for others on the journey.
A great Saint of our Church is Catherine of Siena, who said: “Be who God made you to be and you will set the world on fire!” So on this World Day of Prayer for Vocations, let’s pray that we can understand who God made us to be, and that together as Church we will set this world on fire.
This reflection was written by Adam Burns, whom works for Vocation Brisbane. Growing up, Adam wanted to be Michael Jordan. However, his world was flipped upside down when he realised that, being half Filipino and half Scottish, he would never grow up to be a tall, bald, African-American basketball superstar. Still a basketball fan, Adam splits his time between writing, watching anything featuring Will Smith, guest speaking on topics such as Church, leadership and purpose, and planning his wedding with his beautiful fiancee. His favourite all time quote is found in this link here.
Vocation Brisbane is an office of the Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane. The Vocation Brisbane team is responsible for promoting pathways to the Priesthood, as well as promoting awareness of all vocations. The team present in schools, youth groups, parishes, conferences and expos all around the country. Vocation Brisbane also produces resources and events to help people consider the question: "where am I going, what am I doing and how does God fit?"