Today is Good Shepherd Sunday. We celebrate God’s gift of vocation. We often think of vocation in terms of religious sisters and brothers and priests. Vocation is broader: there are the married and single vocations. Eve Tushnet also writes about the vocation of friendship; for her, this is a very special way of living the Christian life as chaste persons with SSA.
The Latin root of the word ‘vocation’ means to call (vocāre). Jesus calls us all to follow him; our right response is to listen and obey. As Christians, we all strive to live the primary Christian vocation. It is this: to live with Christ-like holiness.
The Bible tells us that the language God prefers is silence, and the atmosphere God best works in is silence. “Be still and know that I am God”. Many a religious and priest will speak about discerning God’s call in silence. You and I are called to do the same. This is why the very first action in any effort we must make to discover and live our different vocations is to listen to God. It is in silence that we will best experience God’s presence and work in our hearts. By paying attention to God labouring in us, we will discover how God wants us to live our everyday life.
A good time to do this is now. In this time of the pandemic, many of us are quarantined at home. There is plenty of time to be silent with God and to listen to God. Perhaps we can consider making this a graced time to ask God to show us how we can live our primary vocation to live as holy people. How can we ask and listen?
This week’s video is “A Spiritual Routine for Catholics Living in Quarantine”.
In it, Fr Mark-Mary offers us 4 ways to do this by entering into a deeper relationship with God. These are the main points he makes:
- The monastic tradition and life offer us tips to live the Christian life well in this time when we are quarantined at home.
- The example of the imprisoned life of Fr. Walter Cizcik, a Jesuit priest who was persecuted in Russia for his faith in the 1920s is also an example of how one can have a flourishing faith life. He did this by keeping a routine of prayer and work; by faithfully practicing this, he drew closer to God.
- This is why in these times when life has changed so much, it’s important to have a schedule and to live by this schedule faithfully. For example, begin the morning with routines like prayer, making your bed, getting dressed; then, doing some work, as well as making time for proper meals, exercising and recreating. Don’t forget, at some point in the day, to have some fun and enjoy other people’s company as much as you can given the situation.
- Here are four suggestions on how to spend your time:
- Pray. Make time for prayer — be it morning prayer, the Rosary or the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Also, attend Mass as it is live-streamed. Consider this as a time to drink deeply the graces of prayer because God wants to quench our thirst for God. But don’t over-indulge in online Masses and prayer.
- Read. Find time for spiritual reading. Read and learn about the Christian faith by reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church, especially the section on prayer (http://ccc.usccb.org/
flipbooks/catech…). Read and be inspired by the lives of good Christian people, like Fr Cizcik in his book, With God in Russia (https://www.amazon.com/God- Russia-Wal...) or He Leadeth Me (https://www.amazon.com/He- Leadeth-Me-…). Read and enjoy a good book for pleasure.
- Do something for others. Set an hour aside for charity. Make this hour each day to think of others and to reach out to them. Encourage and care for them. Charity is living for us, not me. This practice can help us to better live the Christian life at this time. This is how we can indeed live as neighbours for one another like Jesus did by caring for others. So, consider giving someone who might be lonely a call or write to him or her on whatsapp, Instagram or Facebook.
- Schedule some screen time. This is a challenging and trying time. It can overwhelm us, and this can get us easily tired and weary. It is important therefore to make the time for some recreation and rest. Many of us will go online for our recreation. But it is best to schedule this. This will ensure that we don’t overdo this, that is, we avoid becoming too ‘glued’ too much and for too long on online media and entertainment. Let’s not over-indulge in media – not even Catholic media.
- Let’s remember: we are all pilgrims on the journey, and little by little, we will make it through this together.
Let’s consider our spiritual routine in this pandemic. This is the invitation I’d like to make to you for your prayer and reflection this week. Take some time and consider these three points when you pray and reflect. My hope is that by doing this we will strengthen the already good efforts you are making now to be in a life-giving relationship with God and one another:
a) Take an honest look at your spiritual routine at this time. Make a list of pros and cons — what practices are you doing that is strengthening your relationship with God? What habits should you let go because these are taking you away from God?
b) If there is one of the four suggested ways Fr Mark-Mary speaks about that you wish to practice more fervently at this time, which will it be and why?
c) As a person with SSA, you might think that God is not calling you to a vocation, as it is often portrayed by the Church and world. Yet, the primary vocation of every Christian — lay or religious or priest; heterosexual or homosexual — is to listen to God and to let God walk with you to live in God’s ways. How do you feel about this way of understanding ‘vocation’? What would you say back to God if God told you, “this is your vocation; it is a good one because this is how you can grow in holiness”?
Words of Encouragement
Let’s ask God to help us make time for silence – both external and internal – not just to have the ability to rest and regenerate, but to leave room for God to speak to our hearts.