There is a perennial teaching in the Catholic Church that we’re all “called” to something. And that something is usually a vocation – marriage and family, the consecrated religious life, or remaining single for the rest of your life for the sake of the Eternal Kingdom. But there is more to it than that. All baptized and confirmed Catholics are called to be apostles and disciples. All of them, without exception. Additionally, Catholics are called to be soldiers for Christ. We are, after all, the church militant. We are, through the will and superabundant graces from God, Our Father, born warriors. It is never comfortable, and it is most certainly not as glamorous as it is often portrayed in books and movies. It is messy. It can be spiritually excruciating. Praise God we have the saints and angels for inspiration and spiritual refreshment. Absolutely nothing compares to who we are in relationship with our Lord. He is the source and summit of our strength, endurance, and resilience. In John 14:6 we read, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.'”, and we need to make sure that in every moment of every day we cling to Him and His teachings. We need to fully abandon ourselves to His providence, mercy, and love. And as John 15:5 says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me, you can do nothing.” Now is not the time to be apprehensive!
In his decree on the apostolate of the laity, Apostolicam Actuositatem1, Saint Pope Paul VI writes:
Our own times require of the laity no less zeal: in fact, modern conditions demand that their apostolate be broadened and intensified. With a constantly increasing population, continual progress in science and technology, and closer interpersonal relationships, the areas for the lay apostolate have been immensely widened particularly in fields that have been for the most part open to the laity alone. These factors have also occasioned new problems which demand their expert attention and study. This apostolate becomes more imperative in view of the fact that many areas of human life have become increasingly autonomous. This is as it should be, but it sometimes involves a degree of departure from the ethical and religious order and a serious danger to Christian life. Besides, in many places where priests are very few or, in some instances, deprived of due freedom for priestly work, the Church could scarcely exist and function without the activity of the laity.
Amazing how a document written decades ago can be so timely!
In his post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Vita Consecrata2, Saint Pope John Paul II discusses various forms of consecrated life, and he states:
This is a splendid and varied testimony, reflecting the multiplicity of gifts bestowed by God on founders and foundresses who, in openness to the working of the Holy Spirit, successfully interpreted the signs of the times and responded wisely to new needs. Following in their footsteps, many other people have sought by word and deed to embody the Gospel in their own lives, bringing anew to their own times the living presence of Jesus, the Consecrated One par excellence, the One sent by the Father. In every age consecrated men and women must continue to be images of Christ the Lord, fostering through prayer a profound communion of mind with him (cf. Phil 2:5-11), so that their whole lives may be penetrated by an apostolic spirit and their apostolic work with contemplation.
I chose The Calling of Saint Matthew as the main image for this article for a reason. His occupation as a tax collector meant that he was treated horribly by everyone instead of being treated decently. People found the mere sight of him to be repulsive. Can you say that about yourself? Most likely not. His idiosyncratic ways became fodder for those who would rather not have anything to do with him. And yet he was chosen by the Messiah himself to be an apostle and disciple. The most unlikely man … chosen as an apostle and disciple of Jesus. Saint Matthew was only the most unlikely man to those earth. To Jesus, he is a beloved child of Our Father – just like you. If Saint Matthew was chosen, that means that you are too.
We can also look to Our Blessed Mother for inspiration, guidance, and protection. With her annunciation, she became an ultimate and intimate instrument of God. She gave up her life as she knew it for the greater good and the betterment of all mankind (past, present, and future). Of all those in the Eternal Kingdom, it is the Blessed Mother that the Evil One and his minions flee from. That is how much power she has! Don’t forget, she stomped on the head of the serpent. So, when you think that you are in danger of any kind (spiritual, physical, mental, emotional … you name it), go to our Mother! There is nothing she would love more than to be there for her spiritual children!
My brothers and sisters in Christ, regardless of your station in life, we need to live a life that boldly proclaims the Catholic faith in all its glory. We cannot back down. We cannot water down the faith. We are called to always do what is right and just. If the crosses you have been given are weighing you down, gift them back to Jesus. Leave them at the foot of the cross where they were always meant to be.
Lastly, I beseech you, that if you have the smallest inclination that you might be called to the consecrated religious life, please say yes with confidence and courage. If you sense that you are lacking in the confidence and courage you need to give your own annunciation, be at peace. There are millions of people worldwide who are praying for you and who will never cease praying for you. It will be the hardest thing you will ever do in your life, but it is rewarding one hundred fold. Seek out a good Spiritual Director if you do not have one. There is no better time than right now.
Be assured of my prayers. May God continue to infinitely bless you.