Your vocation in life, wrote Frederick Buechner, is “where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”
A vocation is not just a job, but any job can be a vocation. Brother Lawrence, who wrote The Practice of the Presence of God, was famous for finding joy as a dishwasher and kitchen helper in a large monastery. Many student workers on the CSS campus demonstrate their vocation to helping others. They do more than the minimum. They focus on the person they are helping more than finishing the task. They are cheerful in their work. The Student Employee Awards each year recognize these people. Even though these jobs are not their goal, their vocation of service shines through.
This is Vocation Awareness Week. For the last 50 years, the Catholic Church has emphasized that God has plans and dreams for the life of each person. The call to “love one another” is universal, but becomes specific in your own life. A unique call may be to love the sick as a nurse, as a hospital administrator, or as a musician who visits hospitals.
Our five Benedictine values are universal, but each of us may be called to specific manifestations of them. There are dozens of ways to build community, foster the love of learning, offer hospitality, nurture respect for all, and steward material and human resources wisely. We each have a daily vocation, a small call within our larger call. It asks us to apply our values to the people, situations, and tasks immediately in front of us. Fr. Mike Schmitz of Bulldog Catholic says there isn’t any mystery to what we are called to do day-by-day. “Are you a student?” he asks. “Then your vocation today is to be in class and study.”
“What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” asks the poet Mary Oliver. Vocation Awareness Week calls each of us to consider that question. Its many videos and articles raise awareness of vocations that respond to God’s call within the life of the Church, as a Sister, a Brother, a priest or deacon, or even as a hermit. These vocations – like the vocation to family life and parenthood – are a way of life more than a career. Neither Sisters nor parents go “off duty” at 5:00 p.m.
Awareness. This week offers a chance to learn more about a vocation like becoming a Sister. (I’m happy to talk to you if you’d like to know more). It invites us to be aware that our choice is a response to the divine within, more than just a job. If we choose a major or career only for high income or employability, we may be disappointed. I encourage you to ponder where you find your deep gladness. Search for the place where it meets the world’s deep needs. Listen. God may be calling you there.
This article first appeared on November 10, 2017 in The Cable, the student newspaper of The College of St. Scholastica, where Sister Edith writes a weekly column titled Visum Monachae… (As Seen By a Sister).