Roman Catholic Parish


May 5, 2019

Dear All,

Always, the third Sunday of Eastertide is observed a as Day of Prayer for Vocations. If you are reading this before Mass, you will know what to expect from the sermon; if after Mass, this will help to round out the picture.

A vocation is a call. Someone, from somewhere, calls another to leave the status quo and to travel to another place - a place closer to the one who calls (otherwise it would be a mission!). In an age of unfettered consumerism and toxic individualism, the sense of vocation is practically gone. Life is not an invitation or a call or a journey; it is, rather, a matter of fortifying and enriching the self against all comers. That is why coaches are so insistent - and must be so -- that there is no I in team.

As true as that may be, though, there is no I without a team; without family. Family is our first, our primordial vocation. No one's life begins in any other way; no one prospers in any other ground. Indeed, a child who rebels against family life, or an adult who neglects his or her role in a family life, breeds any number of well-recognized and nearly untreatable social and personal travesties and tragedies.

So critical is family to the well-being of the individual that the father of all monks, himself a nearly total hermit declares that living alone is both hard and foolhardy. That is why even the most earnest of god-seekers, who are willing to flee everything that is of this time or place, almost always do so in the context of some sort of communal life. After all, if one values and seeks only alone-ness, then what will one do when the tri-personal God is found?

How about celibacy?, you will ask. And I will answer that celibacy is a unique way of belonging to a corp-orate reality, the Body of Christ. There the group finds it coherence in a kind of 'super-personal' existence; and the individual personalities find their meaning, in neither a totalitarian regime nor an anarchistic antinomianism (look that one up) but in a peculiar dynamism called mutuality.

Mutuality is what one learns on a teeter-totter, or in any game in which holding on tight to one's partner is the indispensible requirement for spinning faster and faster and faster in circle (think of figure skating's death spiral).

Our first call is not to individualism, but to family. And family is the absolute pre-condition for learning mutuality in all those relationships that cannot be understood apart from each other: Man/woman, husband/wife, parent/child, brother/sister, elder/new-comer. Fail to learn how to fulfill these roles in your family of origin and you will have a really hard time setting up in your own family - and you will make a hash of celibacy, too.

Pray for strong and healthy families everywhere; that's how the children of your strong and healthy family find others to wed; that's how we all learn how to be in strong and healthy communities that are not biologically connected.

Pray, too, for a renewed understanding of family that is founded in real, total mutuality, rather than in purchased services, scientific manipulation or legislative fiat

Really, truly and vocationally yours,



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