Three 20-something women trying to figure out what it means to be lay, Catholic, and modern all at once.

March 29, 2010

Vocation: A Missionary of Love

To be Thy Spouse, O my Jesus, to be a daughter of Carmel, and by my union with Thee to be the mother of souls, should not all this content me? And yet other vocations make themselves felt—I feel called to the Priesthood and to the Apostolate—I would be a Martyr, a Doctor of the Church. I should like to accomplish the most heroic deeds—the spirit of the Crusader burns within me, and I long to die on the field of battle in defense of Holy Church. . . . I have the vocation of an apostle. I would like to travel over the whole earth to preach your name and to plant your glorious cross on infidel soil. But oh, my beloved, one mission would not be enough for me, I would want to preach the Gospel on all five continents simultaneously and even to the most remote isles. I would be a missionary, not for a few years but from the beginning of creation until the consummation of the ages. . . . Then, beside myself with joy, I cried out: "O Jesus, my Love, at last I have found my vocation. My vocation is love! Yes, I have found my place in the bosom of the Church, and this place, O my God, Thou hast Thyself given to me: in the heart of the Church, my Mother, I will be LOVE! . . . Thus I shall be all things: thus will my dream be realized"
Happy Holy Week!! I have been reflecting these weeks on the meaning of vocation. You can imagine why - with the whole wedding disaster, I am re-orienting myself on my vocation and asking God for a new direction. I desire still to be married, and I hope indeed that my desire is not in vain. I can only ask God to fulfill it as I seek God's will for me. And even if God still does will me for marriage, marriage is not the only part of a vocation. In that line of thought, this quote from St. Therese's Story of Soul has always resonated with me. I love how she longs for every vocation possible. She wants to be a priest, a missionary, a Doctor of the Church, an apostle. But what she realizes is that each of these longings points her to one thing - LOVE.

I have often heard that we are all called to be missionaries. How? When? Why? To Whom? With every breath, every day, for the love of God, to all we meet. No matter what our vocation - wife, mother, nun, priest, martyr - each of us is called to the vocation to be a missionary of love - ultimately of God who is love. When God gives us moments of realization and clarity of this vocation, like He gives to Therese above, we cannot but cry in joy like her and with her.

This is so much easier in theory than practice. Being a missionary of love in every situation - like when that jerk cuts you off in traffic, or when the person in front of you at the coffee shop takes for-ev-er to order a simple coffee, or your colleagues torment you for your beliefs, get the picture, right? But we can take comfort in those who did it before us and those who do it now. Therese lived but a simple life in the eyes of the world, but through the eyes of faith, she is a spiritual powerhouse who fulfilled every vocation of love. Doing small things with great love, as Mother Teresa says, will fulfill our vocation to love. Or, to put it another way, Etty Hillesum, a young Jewish woman who died in the Holocaust wrote in her diary:
Why is there war? Perhaps because now and then I might be inclined to snap at my neighbor. Because I and my neighbor and everyone else do not have enough love. Yet we could fight war and all its excrescences by releasing, each day, the love that is shackled inside us, and giving it a chance to live.
I know I must work on that. Don't we all. And if Etty, who faced the horrors of the concentration camp day after day still trying to find what was lovable about all people (including her captures), then I suppose we can too. And thankfully, our German Pontiff gives us some encouragement in a recent message to youth. Let us keep him in our prayers and ask for the courage to love, especially during this Holy Week!

1 comment:

Jennie said...

Well said. I completely agree. We are called not simply to marriage or religious life, but to an apostolate of love within our vocation. As Mother Teresa said, “love begins by taking care of the closest ones,” which for me is my husband and daughter, but from there my responsibility extends to include my neighbors, the neighborhood kids, our parish family, the ladies in my yoga class, the list goes on and on. Our work is never done and I like that phrase, “a missionary of love.” I’m going to keep that in mind all week. Thanks!

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