November is a special month in the shrine for showcasing vocation. During this month, every Wednesday there is a sharing and testimonials about the different vocation in our church, e.g., religious sisters, priests, brothers and lay vocation. There is also an ongoing photo exhibit by different religious congregations and lay associations.
The shrine has actively promoted vocations through these years. It has a vocation office and a full-time Redemptorist and lay vocation promoter who coordinates all vocation promotion activities in the shrine. The shrine promotes all vocation, not just vocation to religious life. The profound truth is that we are all called by God. Each of us has his/her particular special calling by God. Each vocation is unique.
Vocation which literally means calling, is a reality deeply embedded in our lives. We all have this inner burning itch of what we would like to become someday. Depending on what our unique God-given talents and ability are, we pursue our dream, for example, to become an engineer, a doctor, a teacher, a photographer, a dancer, etc., someday. In our Christian framework, however, vocation is not only an ambition or a career that we want to pursue in the future. Vocation is God’s calling to live life to the fullest that God has planted in our hearts. To live life to the fullest is in no way opposed to developing our talents and pursuing our creative path. As our Lord Jesus have said, however, we can only achieve the highest fulfillment of ourselves, our gifts and talents if we do not keep it to ourselves but to develop and share them for the love of God, our neighbor and ourselves. In other words, if we wish to fulfill our vocation as Christians we must all become selfless servants and lovers. Whenever we are inclined to seek for ourselves wealth, prestige, popularity, and position, it is no longer about vocation but ambition and power.
The socio-economic and political milieu of the world today may be more receptive to the drive for ambition and power. Thus, it poses some imminent threats and tough challenges to living out the Christian perspective of vocation. We shall focus on two of these major threats and challenges.
One of the biggest threat to vocation today is globalization and the dominant system of neo-liberal capitalism. Because of globalization, many young people chooses professions which will provide the quickest job in a globalized economy. Because of the poverty that was exacerbated by globalization, many young people have no choice but to take professions that will get them easy jobs both here and abroad, for example, nursing, seaman, caregiver, domestic helper, laborers; vocational and technical courses like welding, mechanics, computer technician, etc. For easy landing in local jobs, topping the list of professions today are: call center, medical transcriptionists, etc.
It is a sad reality, indeed, that for many of our young people in our country today, the main motivation for choosing one’s vocation is getting out of the vicious cycle of poverty. Never mind if this is what they truly want and aspire, the reality is, many young people dream of freeing their family from the shackles of poverty. Thus, many are in their present profession, even though they are not happy or something inside of them is saying that this is not the way they would wish to become someday. The economic plight has stifled their creativity and worst of all the very nature of what they want to become.
Another threat to the living out of the Christian vocation is the postmodern culture. Postmodernism has created a “me” society where the interests of the individual takes precedence over the interests of the country or social group or religion. The autonomous individual becomes the measure of all things. The focus is on oneself, one’s own personal development, apart from one’s community and society. Individualism also endangers tradition and institution. That is why there is a massive mistrust in most of the traditional institutions and authority. This is particularly strong amongst young people where they have shown less and less knowledge about their nation’s heroes. And because of the loss of credibility and authenticity of leaders and those in authority, more and more young people have shown reluctance to follow anyone, let alone look up to an idol or a model.
In a world which apparently has no one to follow, it has become tougher to offer a way of life anchored on following Christ. In this age where traditional sources of meaning are being questioned by today’s generation, the very purpose of vocation has become harder to live out and has stirred some inner confusion and emptiness.
These threats and challenges, among other factors, have led to less and less young people entering priesthood and religious life. Probably church and religious leaders have not live enough what they preach. Many have been turned off by the scandals in the church–sexual and material. More significantly, church and religious may have not always succeeded in communicating the real reasons of their consecration and ministry, and in showing how their way of life and spirituality can respond to the needs of the present generation especially the young.
These threat and challenges should not, however, deter us from discovering our deepest calling, pursuing our noblest aspirations and achieving our fullest human maturity. The material, commercial and individualist milieu does not invalidate nor diminish the integrity of vocation as living life to the fullest in a life of service and sacrifice. In a globalized world, the biggest challenge is to continue to proclaim the liberating Gospel which gives us a meaningful way to set people free from the slavery to money, power and fame. In a highly individualized world, the biggest challenge is to continue to proclaim that only in Jesus Christ can we be true individuals, fully human and fully alive. Living out the true meaning of vocation is not to fulfill our calling in isolation but in communion with others and with God.
Mary’s life is a testimony to the truth that our deepest vocation is to live according to a greater cause other than ourselves. Life’s deepest calling is to enter into God’s plan and surrender to the will of God. “I am the Lord’s servant,” said Mary to the angel, “may it happen to me as you have said” (Lk 1: 38). Mary’s response to God’s invitation was not a blind submission but a free and deliberate giving of herself to a higher purpose, that is, to be the mother of the Son of God made man. In responding to God’s invitation, she achieved perfect happiness and humanity.
If you want to discover and discern more the meaning of your true vocation in life, come and drop by at our Vocation office. You may also attend the regular search-in, holy hour and vocation direction activities at the shrine. For more information, visit our website.
Our Mother of Perpetual Help, pray that we may continue to discover, respond and live out God’s calling in our lives.