Friday, September 23, 2016

Vocations and the Friendship of the Church

When I reached over to shut my alarm off a little before Five this morning, I had a text waiting for me. It was this photo. It was a nice way to begin a new day. The three men pictured there are all alumni of the Boston University Catholic Center and, along with four other alumni, are now seminarians.  These three, however, have another bond. After graduating from BU, they each spent a year (or two) working as the intern at the Catholic Center.  The word "intern" doesn't really convey accurately what they do. The interns fundraise their own meager salary and dedicate themselves to serving the community here. They organize programming and keep on top of a thousand details. In addition, they reach out to students, evangelize, and provide a great example. I not only appreciate the work that the interns have done, but I also am grateful for their friendship and for the many Holy Hours spent praying with them.

One reason that I love this photo is because I know that when I post it, it will bring a lot of joy to the whole Catholic Center community. The students and alumni will love this photo because they love these guys, and the community here takes joy and pride in the vocations that have come from the Catholic Center. It also brings me joy because I know the feelings are mutual. Whenever I talk to these guys, they have a million questions about the Catholic Center. They love the Catholic Center, love what happens here, and feel profoundly connected to the lives of the current students. They always ask, "Who is coming to seminary next?" When I look at this photo, I see not only these three guys, but I see the other four alumni who are in seminary, and I see the love, prayerfulness, and joy of the entire BU Catholic Center community. 

At every Mass that we celebrate at the BU Catholic Center, we pray for vocations to the priesthood and the religious life. Specifically, we pray, "For an increase of vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, especially from this community." In the parish, I always prayed, "For an increase of vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, especially from this parish and from your families." Vocations don't drop from the sky. They come from real families and real communities. I am convinced that when we ask the Lord to give vocations from our specific community, he does. On a regular basis, I offer Mass for that intention. Oftentimes, once a parish or a community gets one or two priestly or religious vocations, more follow. 

When I look at the photo above, my mind sees the good work of so many people--students, staff, chaplains, alumni--over the course of many years. Over the years, the BU Catholic Center has been a place where the sacraments are loved. Confessions are an important part of life here. The Blessed Sacrament is adored. Mass is at the heart of life. People learn how to love each other and enter into profound friendships. There is joy. There is a real community. Students care about one another's spiritual lives and want to help others to experience the joy of the Christian life. They love one another. When a Catholic community possesses these types of characteristics--fraternal love, piety and devotion to the sacraments, evangelical zeal, and prayerfulness--it's almost as though you can't help but have vocations flourish. Where people know that the Sacraments matter, priestly vocations will flourish.  

The photo above is about a great Catholic community. It is something which ought to bring joy to those who are at the Catholic Center today and those who laid the foundations over the years. It ought to bring joy to alumni, benefactors, and current and former staff. It ought to bring joy to those who invest in Campus Ministry. It ought to bring joy to the army of friends who faithfully pray for vocations. The Lord is doing something beautiful among us. This is what the friendship of the Church looks like and I'm grateful to be a part of it.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Fr. Barnes, for this great photo! It does indeed bring incredible joy to see the Holy Spirit at work in and around the BU Catholic Center, especially through the newest Seminarians. God Bless all of you.