Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What Vocation Crisis?


by Ken Willers

       Once Upon A Time, there was a monastery where the brothers who lived there worked on a little field and they were neither happy nor sad. They were, you could say, indifferent. The brothers had all settled down to this way of life and work for they didn't know any other way of living.

            One day a very smart and talented young man came to the monastery and wanted to join the brothers. The young man had great abilities in writing, music, the arts and in the sciences. The Abbot felt very lucky that such a young man wanted to join the brothers

            As his training was coming to an end the young man went to his Abbot and asked, "Should I continue my studies as a writer?"
             "Oh no." said the Abbot, "One does not write here. All we do here is care for our little field." 
            "I see." said the young man and he went out into the field.

            More time went by and the young man returned to the Abbot and asked, "Should I continue my studies in music and the arts?" 
            "Oh no," said the Abbot, "that would be of no use here for all we do is care for our little field." 
            "I see." said the young man and he went back out into the field.

            A year went by and the young man returned to the Abbot again and said, "Should I continue my studies in science and technology."      "Oh no," said the Abbot, "don't you understand that all we do here is work in our little field and you must settle for that and nothing more."
            "I see." said the young man and he went back out into the field.

            As the young man was working in the field he found a old box buried deep in the earth. He opened the box and inside was a picture of a monastery where the brothers were smiling, singing, playing, working, building, studying and praying. In the front of all the activity was a young man who was obviously the Abbot. The young man thought to himself, 'This is the monastery I want to join.'

            So, the young man went to the Abbot with the picture and said, "Father, I must leave here at once for I have found the monastery God has called me to join."
            The Abbot asked, "What monastery is this?"
            The young man gave the Abbot the picture and said, "Here it is. I found it in the little field as I was digging. You can have it. Now, I must move on. Good-bye."

            The Abbot cried as he looked at the picture for he remembered his founder with love.

Reflections on 'Vocations'
Founders of religious congregations are often remembered as faith-filled, fearless and inspiring men and woman who always said YES to the presence of the spirit in their lives. But more importantly, the majority of these men and women, were inspired lay people. Our great founders were lay men and women faithfully responding to their vocation to serve the Church.

As a result of their bold vision and deep convictions our Founders inspired followers and their lay-driven movements, in many cases, challenged the status quo of the Church.  These holy men and women frequently needed to defend  the 'validity of their call' when responding to a 'need' not sanctioned by the Church, or because these Founders felt compelled to serve outside the acceptable ministries. 

So, where are the vocations of today? I would say-that those called to serve the church today are right in full view. They possess a sincere desire to serve. They possess the gifts and the talents that the Church needs for the 21st Century. And, they are eager to make the sacrifice to advance the Mission of the Church. 

So, why don't they? You ask. That's the wrong question. The more accurate question should be: Why doesn't the Church SEE them? Perhaps its because the Church defines ministry too narrowly for the 21st Century...and anything that 'extends beyond the little field' of clerically-approved ministry is not recognized as 'vocation worthy.'

The reality is, that the gifted--those called to ministry, do offer their God-given gifts and respond to their 'vocation,' but do so outside the limited 'landscape of ministry as defined by our current Church.'

The Holy Spirit, in her wisdom, is making sure that the needs of the Church in the 21st Century will be addressed. As I see it, there is no 'vocation crisis,' because there continues to be countless holy men and women who are answering the call to serve the needs of the Church every day--the irony is, that the Holy Spirit chooses to do it outside the 'little field' of clericalism...She has once again chosen the laity.