Sunday, February 25, 2018

If Christ is Calling, Follow

I just wanted to share with you some beautiful things that I encountered this weekend.

This weekend dozens of men joined Cardinal Sean O'Malley for a vocations retreat for the Archdiocese of Boston. I was grateful for the opportunity to be one of the confessors for their Holy Hour on Saturday evening. Meeting so many Catholic men from varied experiences and ethnic backgrounds, who are all open to the Lord's will in their life, was truly edifying and an encouragement.  There were some really great guys on the retreat. 

There were a good number of men from Boston University on the retreat. What struck me as particularly beautiful is the friendship that they share with one another. Several of these men are graduates from BU, but they remain close to one another and encourage one another in their Catholic Faith. It is awesome to see Catholic men encouraging one another to be faithful to the Lord. These guys live a friendship with one another, pray with one another, and are seeking God's will together. 

After the Holy Hour on Saturday evening, the men on retreat were joined by fifty or so Boston seminarians for a social.The room was filled with extraordinary joy and some beautiful music.  Some of the seminarians have incredible musical talent, so there was a lot of singing in both Spanish and English. I was particularly struck by the joy of the seminarians. 

The retreat was organized by the priests of the Vocations Office for the Archdiocese of Boston. They did such a great job. The priests who work in that office are generous men. They are always "on the job." They are an impressive team.

In the end, parish priests and college chaplains don't produce vocations. Vocation directors and bishops don't produce vocations. Families and parishes don't produce vocations. Absolutely, all of these persons and institutions are important for creating a culture of vocations. But, in the end, it comes down to each man's response to the call of Christ. It is ultimately left to the freedom of the man himself. If Christ is calling him, then Christ is giving him a grace to say, "Yes." The question is ultimately whether the individual man will say, "Yes" to the call of Christ. "Come, follow me." This is the heart of a vocation. It originates in the simplicity and purity of this invitation, and in the generous and free response.

The retreat this weekend--the fruit of so much organization and work by the Cardinal and his team-- was a gift to these men. They were provided an opportunity to step away from all of the distractions and attachments that hinder them from hearing this invitation. It made it possible for them to hear anew--in all of its beauty, simplicity and grandeur--the call, the invitation, the plea: "Come, follow me." I think a lot of guys spend too much time, "discerning." There is a risk of becoming a professional discerner. I like to remind men that the gospel accounts of Jesus calling people were concise and direct. "Come, follow me." That's it. No long discussions, debates, hand-wringing etc. It was either leave cling to the nets or cling to Jesus. It came down to a decision.

Please join me in praying for all of these men. If they did hear Christ calling them, pray that they leave everything behind and follow Him. In this alone are discovered true freedom and lasting joy.

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