For some reason, in my meditation this afternoon, I began to think about the mystery of vocation. I am always a little bit afraid that I am going to stray into heresy, but this is what I was thinking;
a true vocation makes sense of who we are. We can look back over our lives and see some meaning in some of our experiences, sufferings and directions. In fact, if the vocation is true, we can say that we were chosen to be "what" we are from the beginning of time. I suppose I was thinking about Our Lady and how She was chosen before the world began to be the Mother of the Saviour. It must be true for all of us, then. As I look back over my life I can make some sense of so much that has happened to me because I am a priest. I was always meant to be a priest. From being a small child there was something about me that can only be explained through my vocation to be a priest. I am finding my true self (note: finding!) in my priesthood, and in finding myself I am finding all those I love and who have loved me - my deceased parents and friends, my spiritual directors etc. Looking back I can see a "hand" that invited me and led me.
At the same time I began to think about wrong vocations, but I am reminded of a chapter in a book by the great Fr. Gerald Vann o.p - a chapter about living the wrong vocation. This is really mysterious, and opens a whole set of questions about grace. I was trying to understand it all (too much for one afternoon), but came to the conclusion that if a person accepts the wrong vocation, in other words, chooses it, then it becomes the right one. The key is in the response. Is this how we might understand the calling of Thomas Becket to be Archbishop of Canterbury? He was called by the King, and did not want it, but accepted it and embraced it as the Will of God. There is much to think and pray about here, but in general, it occurred to me that the difference between a genuine vocation and one that is false is the informed choice of the individual as well as the acceptance of others, be it the Church, the marriage partner or those we are called to serve. Also, the confirmation of this vocation is that it seems to tie loose ends together and makes sense of a person's life.
I pray for the young people in Spain, that many of them may be open to God's call - whatever it may be, and that they will find their true selves in accepting that call.