Many will know that the Diocese of Chichester (of which our parish is a part) has been using yearly themes as a way of drawing people to consider and enrich their faith journey. We have had a year of mercy, then one of prayer. 2019 has been designated that of vocation. To me, it seems a rather difficult concept to define, and like many other aspects of our Faith will mean little to those ‘outside,’ and not used to the jargon. I don’t write this pejoratively, but I think that it means we are must engage critically to see how we might understand and benefit in engagement.
People over a certain age will immediately think of ‘vocation’ as applying not just to a religious calling from God (and the word comes from the Latin, ‘To call’), but also to people within the caring professions. We might have heard the word applied to nurses and doctors. I wonder if this is still the case?
Historically, Roman Catholicism has recognised marriage, religious, and ordained life as the three vocations, whilst the Reformation period saw Luther and Calvin placing a particular emphasis on vocations as potentially including most secular occupations. The last century saw the term ‘vocation’ evolving, with emphasis shifting to an individual’s development of talents and abilities in the choice and enjoyment of a career. This has led to a diminution of term’s religious meanings in the way many understand the word.
However, before I get too tangled up, and bearing in mind that I have already written too much, I think that the context the diocese intends us to view the word is regarding our own call to use our gifts and talents in order to reveal Jesus in all that we do as people of faith. In this, the one definition I can wholeheartedly grasp is that in the Roman Catholic Catechism which states: ‘Love is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.’ Quite!
In other words, as we travel through this year, let us all seek to deepen our love for those whose lives we touch (however tangentially), in the knowledge of God’s overwhelming love for each one of us revealed in the face of Jesus Christ.