John Scott, currently a seminarian in formation at Allen Hall, writes the following reflection on vocation for Good Shepherd Sunday.
‘God has created me to do Him a definite service’ is perhaps Blessed John Henry Newman’s best known quote. On 26 April we celebrate World Day of Prayer for Vocations and will collect for the Priest Training Fund in the diocese to contribute to the ongoing formation and development of our priests. The word vocation in the Church is often misconstrued to solely mean a call to the priesthood or religious life. But this is not the case. A vocation is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as ‘a strong feeling of suitability for a particular career or occupation’. Not all of us have this strong feeling towards the priesthood or religious life.
But that is fine. Because we may feel that we have a strong feeling towards something else.
In the working world, many people for example have a vocation to teach and work in our diocesan schools to educate the next generation of young people. Many Catholics are drawn to public life in all sectors, including politics. There are currently almost 90 Catholic MPs who sit in the House of Commons, roughly 14% of the House, and 60 peers in the House of Lords. Others are called to work with their hands as artists, sculptors, plumbers and builders. In our personal lives, some of us are called to married life and parenthood while others are called to live the single, chaste life. The list we could make here about the range and depth of vocations that any given person can have is endless.
The quote from John Henry Newman was first written in 1848 in a world vastly different to ours. More recently Pope Francis has said ‘No vocation is born of itself or lives for itself. A vocation flows from the heart of God and blossoms in the good soil of faithful people, in the experience of fraternal love.’ Despite the 160 year gap, the message of the Pope and Newman remains consistent. We have all been called by God to do Him some definite service in our lives. The challenge for us is how do we respond to that call?