Wednesday, July 27, 2005

God's Megaphone

God’s Megaphone: What You Can Do to Foster Vocations
God doesn’t put up billboards. Nor send down booming voices from heaven. At least not usually.

He whispers. Just like Elijah on Mount Horeb discovered God not in the mighty wind, not in the earthquake, not in the raging fire, but in a gentle breeze, we hear him speak in a gentle, constant, interior whisper. (cf. 1 Kgs 19)

That’s why those of us who have counseled young people thinking about vocations often hear phrases like “a thought in the back of my head that won’t go away,” “an idea I’ve had for years but can’t explain,” or “something I can’t sit on any more, that I have to find out more about.” God never twists anyone’s arm: he always prefers a simple invitation, and sometimes the invitation is for life.

But sometimes when he whispers, he uses a megaphone. That’s how he called the first Pope: early one morning, Simon Peter was startled by his brother Andrew’s breathless invitation, “We have found the Messiah!” And Andrew “took Simon to Jesus,” (Jn 1, 41-42). From the moment of that first invitation until the night of Holy Thursday, Peter never left his Master’s side.

To this day, God often uses “megaphones” to call those whom he wants to follow him more closely. It is very common to hear, for example, “A friend of the family asked me a little while back if I’d ever thought about being a priest, and that got me thinking. Maybe it had always been in the back of my head. I wanted to find out if this is for me.”

Maybe that friend simply mentioned something that was obvious to everyone else . . . except that young man. Maybe that friend, reasoning that we can’t just let this vocation shortage “happen,” thought that just maybe God might want this young man to be the next pastor at that vacant parish.

Almost any of us, thinking it over for a minute, can think up one or two or three young people at the parish, or perhaps even young relatives, who might fit that mold. Is God asking you to be his megaphone to help them hear his invitation?

“I can’t do that,” some might say. “It’s too pushy.”

Not at all. It’s a simple invitation, and we all love invitations. Who wouldn’t want an invitation to a party or a raise? This is so much greater than those.

“I’m afraid,” others will say. “Who knows how he will respond?”

Experience shows that he will probably thank you! You’re showing tremendous respect for recognizing his talents and gifts and suggesting that God might want him to be one of his best friends.

Not everyone will be spiritually ready to hear that suggestion. (But even so: it’s not something to discount easily.) If somebody really isn’t ready to hear that good news yet, remember that human nature loves being invited to anything: an invitation to the parish youth group or to World Youth Day this August might be a good first step to prepare the ground to possibly hear and accept God’s call later on. The seed needs to fall on rich tilled soil to spring up and bear fruit, after all.

“Set out into the deep!” John Paul II delivered that guideline for the whole Church at the dawn of the Millennium in Novo Millennio Ineunte. He wrote on that occasion that vocation promotion is the responsibility of all Christians. And that’s a lot easier than it sounds. It starts with prayer and culminates in a “Hey, Mike. I’ve been thinking. Has anyone ever told you that you would make a great priest?”

It’s just that simple. Following Christ’s example, we invite others to follow more closely in his footsteps. Let God do the talking: you just be the megaphone.

(Legionary Brother, Shane Johnson, writes from Rome where he studies philosophy at the Legion of Christ's Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum.)


subrosa said...

nice article. i'm curious. when you become ordained, do you think you will (be able to) join the Congregation of the Legionnaries of Christ? I think it would be cool if you did, but the controversy....

Matt1618 said...

Hmmm, not sure, I don't think so. I understand the L.C.'s to be like a religious order, meaning if you wanna be part of 'em, you go through their formation which is considerably more demanding than diocesan formation. But, their apostolate, Regnum Christi, is open to lay and ordained. I could consider something like that, but you're right, it wouldn't help me make friends in the presbyterate as is. We'll see...all this assumes I'll be ordained of course ;)