Bishop Charles - Vocation

When I was doing my OE, long before I was a priest, I visited a Benedictine Monastery near Rome at Subiaco. Chatting with one of the monks, I asked him how many were in the community. He responded: ‘you would be the fifteenth’. A clever, affirming, seed-sowing response. The vocation of marriage necessarily entails someone asking someone else to marry them. The question is put; sometimes dramatically. It’s the same for vocations to the priesthood or to life as a Sister or Brother...

July 2016

…Encouragement of young people to discern this call is a question, an invitation; an echo of God’s fundamental call to each of us to follow him in a particular way along a path of discovery.

I’ve just come back from a weekend retreat at Jerusalem up the Whanganui River. The focus was Vocation Discernment. Together with a Marist Father, Sisters of Compassion, and a Sister of St Joseph of Cluny we gathered with a wonderful group of young people. The question which emerges for me (and them) is ‘what next’? So easily the quivering flame of desire to respond to God’s call can be dampened (cf Isaiah) by ordinary, daily-life routines. We get caught up in something else, which in itself is good.

Taking a ‘next step’ in a vocational journey is partially an act of the imagination. How would I fit? What would I contribute? Am I willing to let go of the familiar and embrace a partially unknown? Many find this hard. Trawling the internet for the ‘perfect’ Order or the most ‘this’ or ‘that’  Bishop, so often far from being a tool of discernment is a distraction, a form of voyeurism that conveniently leaves ‘you’ out of the picture.

At Jerusalem we quipped that of all the titles of Mary, none is ‘Our Lady of Perpetual Discernment’. Scripture is full of remarkable accounts of ‘Come Follow Me’ stories. None involve navel gazing. Abraham and Sarah are the prototypes but what of today? Recently a young person from our Diocese put it this way: ‘we are the Pompallier and Suzanne Aubert of today’. That’s a remarkable statement. In

Recently a young person from our Diocese put it this way: ‘we are the Pompallier and Suzanne Aubert of today’. That’s a remarkable statement. In
many ways it is true. But how is this kind of insight interpreted? Towering figures of our Aotearoa faith story inspire awe yet in many ways the daily-life routine of even the greats was and is ‘ordinary’. Service; focused, committed, and selfless. I sense that one of the main

I sense that one of the main obstacles to saying ‘yes’ today is not so much a sense of unworthiness (we are all that) for the extraordinary
but an un-readiness to embrace the ordinary – the daily grind, the unspectacular, the hidden and unnoticed, the disappointments –
routine of life as a priest Brother or Sister. And perhaps that is exactly the same for marriage today too.

Yet we also know that those who have been most influential in our own lives have been those who have done the ordinary in an extraordinary way
a gesture, an extended hand, an insight shared, a word of encouragement, a way they taught us, a constant being there, which shaped us for life.

The Benedictine monk’s response to me harboured a question, which in turn invited a response from me. Discernment is hard work. Responses cannot be outsourced. Grapple with the question of Vocation. Only you can respond. But know that the journey is never alone.

Have a question? We can help. Get in touch with the Diocese.

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