It’s about adding. This is the new vocational promotion’s calling: “From the strainer type of pastoral work in vocations, we pass to the funnel…” (3/10)
Let us make a trip to what we can call “the stove”, the kitchen. The kitchen is a place of hard work that expresses love and affection, and it’s the place where the “deliciousness” of an encounter is prepared. The fire in the kitchen warms the whole house both literally and metaphorically. There are two utensils in that warm kitchen that can help us understand the new vocations promotion proposition: The strainer and the funnel.
The strainer or sieve is excellent for separating elements, especially to get rid of liquids or smaller particles that may be useless for what you are doing. The larger particles stay in the strainer and ready for your use. The funnel has a different purpose, it’s to pass any element from a larger container to a smaller one avoiding any spilling.
In the past of any pastoral work for vocations, the strainer method was the custom, in the sense that everyone was included in any first encounter with children and youth and the promoters would notice who could be a religious or priest and then invite them to the next stage of accompaniment to help the candidate discern whether his vocation to the priesthood was strong enough to enter the seminary.
But a question remained unanswered: “How about the rest that were not invited to start a discernment process?” The past method started to present a serious limitation of narrowing vocation only to religious life or priesthood. Whoever did not show interest for the seminary, was left abandoned. This is why so many people show little interest when he/she hears the word vocation in any event invitation; “It’s a talk for those who want to be a nun or a priest” so they think. It shouldn’t be this way.
The now called “vocational culture” wants to insist in the importance of creating a favorable atmosphere that will enable any person to accept life with gratitude and appreciation, live the gift of faith, and respond freely and courageously to God’s personal calling to follow Christ and in a relationship with him discover where God wants, what he dreams for our life and which is our mission and purpose in this world.
This culture or general atmosphere in the Church and at home will promote positive attitudes such as being grateful, openness to what is transcendent and be in awe with it, ability to dream big readiness to serve responsibly, trust in oneself and others, affectionate, understanding, forgiving, and generous.
For this, the idea of the funnel is perfect; it must be wide enough to include absolutely everyone in this invitation to participate in different encounters that will teach how to live this human and Christian values through specific experiences that will surely touch human consciences especially those of future generations.
We have to reach many everywhere and anytime to encourage individuals to start searching for the true God-given meaning of life centered in personal encounter with Jesus Christ.
It may seem that for our modern society, the narrowness of the funnel can be a threat to the wide and large freedom we all want, but we must recognize the need we all have to direct and concentrate our lives to what we deeply yearn. It is in Christ what we will find all the real, unbelievable and beautiful ways we can live our vocation; whichever it may be.
In the newest way we are considering vocation promotion, the strainer that ignores those that do not want to be religious or priests, is no longer being used. The funnel (the Gospel of Christ) offers all, guidance to discover greater and more concrete options and possibilities in life. A precise encounter with Christ’s infinite love offered to everyone to make it real in life.
Those responsible of vocations promotion are servers of this spiritual encounter that will take all to consider these decision-making options especially with the perspective of discipleship.
For anyone encountering Christ and decides to follow him, it is important that he/she gets to know the varied ways of being his/her disciple; the vocation Christ is calling each particular persona. The vocations promoter is a companion in this process; his/her mission is to make straight what seems only crooked and confusing paths to the person who has that first intuition that has sparked in his/her inner self, a restlessness that cannot be denied and doesn’t stop enticing the heart. The vocations director opens spaces that help a person recognize the beauty, the spaciousness and the charm of one’s own vocation after an encounter with Christ.
Fabián Martín Gómez, agustino recoleto