19 February 2009

The Vocation of Being Yourself

Poet Wendell Berry wrote in his essay God and Country that using the term "full-time Christian service" turns the devoted life into a religious specialty or career. It removes the possibility of devotion from other callings. If the priest or preacher is a "full-time Christian servant", then the farmer can merely serve God in his spare time.

The work of Christ on earth is not just for the professionals. At several points in my life I was in full-time "career" ministry. Now that I am a "civilian" it's easy to discount what I am doing for the Kingdom. Would my service mean more if I wore a collar or a cassock? Of course not. My daily social contacts provide opportunities to minister to others. A parent, a good neighbor, a caring friend: all of these are vocations.

The fathers at Vatican II reminded the ordinary Christian of this. In Apostolicam Actuositatem they explained, "the laity likewise share in the priestly, prophetic, and royal office of Christ and therefore have their own share in the mission of the whole people of God in the Church and in the world." Here are some other declarations from this document:

"Since the laity, in accordance with their state of life, live in the midst of the world and its concerns, they are called by God to exercise their apostolate in the world like leaven, with the ardor of the spirit of Christ."

"On all Christians therefore is laid the preeminent responsibility of working to make the divine message of salvation known and accepted by all men throughout the world."

"They should not cease to develop earnestly the qualities and talents bestowed on them in accord with these conditions of life, and they should make use of the gifts which they have received from the Holy Spirit."

When you wake up in the morning, ask the Lord to show you ways to bless those around you. Seek the gifts of the Holy Spirit for the building up of the Church. Be the fragrance of Christ in a dying world.

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