Question of adding up. The new call for the animation of vocations: "Manifesto of the vocational community" (8/10)
Prayer for vocations is the most proportionate means for the animation of vocations. The Christian community is called to resume the practice of prayer for vocations. We do not pray for vocations because of the urgency of the moment, but to respond to a very demanding Gospel: "the harvest is abundant. Pray, then, the owner of the harvest to send workers into his harvest "(Matthew 9:37).
Keeping the interest and concern for vocational animation now in the Church is an increasingly central issue in evangelization. The recent synod of bishops on "Youth, faith and vocational discernment" has placed at the center of reflection the crossroads regarding the accompaniment of new generations in the search for the meaning of their lives.
A fundamental objective in vocational animation is also to accompany and help those who have already made a lifelong choice, to grow as Christians from the dynamic reality of their own vocation. In fact, the joyful and serene testimony of the different forms of Christian life is very important for young people to recognize and strengthen their own vocational response.
It is not about doing vocation ministry in which we can be satisfied or distressed by the numbers when quantifying how many have entered the seminary or the house of formation. On the contrary, the animation of vocations seeks to accompany personal processes so that those who make proposals for Christian life can discover their place and mission in the world.
Incorporation of the laity in the animation of vocations: We cannot understand a serious vocation ministry when the laity are absent. Let's change the focus. The presence of the laity in the vocational animation teams does not respond to a simple auxiliary collaboration. On the contrary, the laity, in assuming their condition as missionary disciples, also receive the mission of promoting vocations.
From time to time we should ask ourselves as an examination of conscience: does my Christian community - parish, education, formation, etc. - evoke, summon and provoke the vocational theme as a permanent action in evangelization? The renewal of the methods, models and styles of evangelization implies a clear and explicit incorporation of the vocational approach, since it is the very heart of the Gospel.
By encouraging the Christian life through personal processes of evangelization, it sooner or later leads to decisions and life choices. A Christian who grows in his condition as a disciple of Christ opens up little by little to the understanding of a mission assigned exclusively to him. In fact, Christ wants to count on us to extend his Kingdom: what mission do you think he entrusts to you in this plan?
Take the leap in quality. Enough talking so much about the "vocational culture"! Now it's time to create it ... Enough talking so much about the "quality" in vocational animation! Let's take the leap once and for all ... In communities where new approaches to the animation of vocations have a space and place, wonderful things really happen.
Vocation is a call from God to be and give the best of oneself; We are vocation and we live and grow in a vocation ... It is necessary that we exorcise from catechesis, homilies and Christian formation a poor concept, "short sighted" and "accommodating" about the vocation, that rather than helping, ends up confusing people. Let us handle a concept about the vocation that is integral, demanding and in which God has a place.
We orientate people in general and young people in particular, as vocational animators, so that the vocation is welcomed as that inalienable intuition that sticks in the human heart and punctures it gently to fulfill its purpose: to be happy. And beware, living the vocation does not consist in recreating "the best of possible worlds" for me, but in fighting to make this world a better world for all.
Community that is evangelized, community that becomes, in turn, evangelizing. The same could be said about the animation of vocations: a community that is vocation oriented - enriched with the culture of the gospel - a community that becomes, in turn, vocational - transmitting the joy of the encounter with Christ. It is the Gospel that moves the call to follow Christ in the different vocations.
To allude to the "vocational community" from the understanding of the "vocational culture" is the last and necessary consequence for the new style of pastoral animation of vocations. It is clearly said that: the Christian community is the mother of different vocations. It is in the bosom of the Church where the diversity of Christian vocations are nourished and gestated.
To listen to God’s calling means listening attentively to his Word. The Christian is, by vocation, a "listener of the Word". The very structure of faith has to do with a response of love to a love that precedes us and that has taken the initiative to begin a dialogue with the human being. From the very beginning in the life of every person, God is entering into a dialogue. And his first word is: live!
To begin the understanding of one's vocation is to set out on the road, to leave oneself, to take on the adventure of entering into the unknown ... For those who follow a vocational itinerary the path is wonderful, but it is also full of obstacles, distractions and temptations. On the horizon of the vocational search, fears, insecurity and resistances, but also fascination with Jesus Christ, take place in the heart.
The promoters opting to accompany vocational processes is to perform a service of listening. The vocational promoter, by standing next to those who are determined to follow their own path of vocational search, experiences the light of God and the patience to be a witness and contemplative of the discoveries of those who accompany them. And a companion is barefoot with respect before the sacred ground of the believing heart.
Not to accompany in these times personal processes for vocational discernment is really a negligence; we might even say, a sin of omission. The Church is asking for it; Pope Francis and the bishops are exhorting us; and the young people themselves are demanding it from us. I ask: will we ignore this call of the Holy Spirit?
Accompaniment for vocational discernment. The "vocational culture" has to do today with "the training and capability for accompaniment" and with the "ability of discernment in the Spirit". Accompaniment and discernment are indispensable realities in the personal process of following Jesus Christ; and it is in a relationship with Christ that a vocation is recognized, understood and chosen.
Vocation ministry is the organized action of the Church in favor of all vocations. Vocations do not arise by "spontaneous generation", but sprout from a living encounter with Christ and from the awareness of being his disciples. It can be said that being a friend of Christ is the best thing that has happened to us; the only thing we can do to correspond to this happiness is to thank him with humility that he has looked upon us.
Fabián Martín Gómez, Augustinian Recollect