‘God is the Source of Every Vocation’

On 20 October 2016 the Cardinal addressed the International Congress on the Pastoral Care of Vocations in Rome on the Church’s teaching on vocations. He explained that ‘God is the source of every vocation’. ‘In this Year of Mercy,’ he said, ‘we remember that the first expression of God’s mercy is the gift of life with a purpose.’ This vocation or ‘definite service’, as Blessed John Henry Newman describes, cannot be found or developed without a community. ‘God’s merciful call to love finds expression in the vocation to be a missionary disciple of Christ,’ added the Cardinal. ‘A Christian expresses his discipleship through living as a consecrated person, an ordained minister or as a lay person, in either the single or married state,’ said the Cardinal. However, he also explained that a vocation includes each person’s work, whether paid employment, the work of caring for family members, voluntary work or artistic work. ‘The Church values all work as a service to others, whether paid or not, he said. Turning in particular to the priesthood, the Cardinal explained that this vocation has a specifically Christ-like character: ‘This is the first and fundamental conformity to Christ required for an authentic vocation to the priesthood. In such a vocation it must be evident that a man wants to be a shepherd who loves, rather than a master who controls.’ This ministry finds its ‘expression in the service of Word and Sacrament, in leadership of the parish community.’ ‘Vocation is a call to selflessness and finds its expression in the service of others...especially the service of those in need,’ said the Cardinal ‘Thus, in the heart of the priest is the consolation and challenge of knowing that he has been called by the Father for one sole purpose: that the Father may give him to the Son, as a gift of the Father, to be a companion for Jesus forever in the mission entrusted to the Son by the Father.’ Cardinal Vincent continued. He added, ‘This, for me, is the deepest meaning of priesthood: that it is the will of the Father that my hands, my voice, my actions, are given to his Son so that, in the power of the Holy Spirit, they may be channels of God’s grace for all to whom I minister.’ Reflecting on the death of Fr Jacques Hamel, the Cardinal closed with the following words: ‘Our struggles are different but we too have to fight, each day, to keep fresh the original call and inspiration which brought us to our knees at the moment of our ordination. We too want to bring that dedication to the moment of our death, for death is the final call of our pilgrimage, the final vocation, to which we want to respond with humble integrity and loving trust in the Lord. It is he who calls us to life, to our ministry and through death into his presence forever. That is our enduring hope and it is indeed the joy of the Gospel we proclaim.’ For the full text of Cardinal Vincent’s address please visit www.rcdow.org.uk/cardinal/addresses/