A very learned English bishop has noted that most of us have a very dramatic idea about vocation. We may even think of God as a great novelist or playwright. As God develops His great drama new characters are called in to fill certain roles. God needs a priest here, or a sister or a brother, and you and I are called up to play our part.
Well, that’s one way to look at it!
If that’s the way we see it, we might have a niggling anxiety that God has called me to fill a role I wasn’t really cut out to play. Does God, in His eagerness to finish the drama of salvation, want you or me to simply ‘squeeze’ into a particular vocation? Will you or I be called by God to some particular vocation, rather like an understudy, simply so that the show can go on; the ‘show’ being the great story of God redeeming creation, the history of salvation?
The same bishop notes that, in the scriptures, creating and calling go together. In Genesis God creates the stars and then calls them by name. And when God creates human beings, God calls them by name. Creation and call are not two separate moments. God does not create a vast cast of people and then, as and when God needs another character for His great drama, God calls you or me from out of this vast number. ‘Here you go, I have a role for you!’
What is certain is that each one of us has a vocation. That vocation or call will be determined by our circumstances, by a bundle of things we inherit from our parents and family, including a strong genetic inheritance. Social conditions influence our path in life too. But from the moment we were created, indeed before we ever came to be, we were also called and this call is eternal, irrevocable: ‘Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you came to birth I consecrated you’ (Jeremiah 1: 5)
So, God hasn’t created anyone of us as ‘extras’ to fit into a scheme. We are, each one of us, called to holiness by a path which always leaves us free; free to love, free to grow, free to be ourselves. If someone is called to be a Franciscan friar that individual and the Franciscan Order need to begin a journey together to see if, from both perspectives, there is a genuine call to this way of life.
We call this discernment and it begins when a someone who has been thinking along these lines decides to write an email or pick up the phone and make contact with us. It may be that you are being called into this way of life, or maybe not, but what is absolutely certain is your vocation to holiness.
You are not an extra in a play, you have been called and chosen to be yourself, to be fully yourself, in Christ.
Friar Liam OFM
If you are interested in the Franciscan way of life please contact:
Friar Liam Kelly OFM
Phone: 087 396 0262
Postal address: Franciscan Friary, The Abbey, Francis Street, Galway City.