Finding and fulfilling God’s calling for us

Finding and fulfilling God’s calling for us
By Jerome Placido

It is true that our past experiences, family backgrounds, even the examples given by the rest of the world have in one way or another shaped how we approach relationships. But these alone should not be what shapes how we love one another and love God. If we do allow these things to dominate how we love and not take into consideration the source of all love, which is God, then we fall short of how Christ calls us to love.

I know people who cannot imagine being alone for the rest of their lives let alone to be without a relationship for more than 5 months. There are others who would rather not be involved with anyone and would rather die than be “tied down.” Then there are others who are indifferent and could go either way.

But life is more than the quest for that special someone. For those who remember “Boy Meets World,” it’s more than a Cory and Topanga happy ending. Life is about finding and fulfilling God’s calling for us, our vocation.

No, not a VACATION, I’m talking about a VOCATION.

The word comes from the Latin “vocare” which translated means “to call.” So basically we can say that a vocation is what God is calling us to do. More than that it is the official invitation from God telling us how exactly he desires us to love Him.

The intention of this article isn’t to begin and break down the different types of callings and go into depth each one (which we can go into in another entry). But for now, let us focus on the universal call for all men, the call to holiness, the call to love God with our entire beings and then to love our neighbors.

St. Therese of Lisieux once said “My vocation is love…” We have more than enough bad examples, and wrong road maps on what love is and how we should love. We don’t have to go far for good examples either. Mother Theresa of Calcutta once said, “When I look at the Cross I see how much Jesus loved me then, when I look at the Blessed Sacrament I see how much he loves me now.”

If we want an example of love, let’s go back to the author who leaves us not only the great sign of His love, but as he promised he remains with us always (Mt 28:20). St. Thomas Aquinas calls the Holy Eucharist the Sacrament of Love, so let it be then our very example of how we are to love.

Our Lord remains faithful and constant despite the rejection He may receive from men He never stops giving His whole self over, to those whom He loves. He remains silent and humble regardless of the lack of reverence shown him. Little show love in return, few recognize His love, but no complaint comes from the Lord he simply continues to love. He transcends time and space and takes the form of mere bread not only to be adored but to be consumed by His beloved, us.

It is a love that is simple yet profound not expressed by jewelry, flowers, chocolates, or elaborate gifts, but rather he offers the “pearl of great price” to all whom he loves, that is, HEAVEN. His love is pure; He does not love us for our appearances, our figure, but for our soul and our salvation.

Words really are not enough to explain the great example of Christ’s love in the Eucharist, and so I invite you to spend a few moments of your own meditating this love and let it guide you always in the love we show to others.

Sad but true, we do have plenty of bad examples. But, when we begin to love the way Christ prescribes, we, in time, will have more good examples.

TRUE LOVE is contagious because everyone is seeking it. And when that perfect love comes into one’s life, “all imperfect things shall disappear.” So let our love echo His and we will be the catalyst that changes how the whole world sees love, and how individuals begin to love.


How to Stay Strong Spiritually During Lent

How to Stay Strong Spiritually During Lent
By Fr. John Bartunek, LC

Q: Every year I start out Lent with great ambition and hope for spiritual growth, but somewhere along the way I lose interest and let myself slide. I really want to avoid the slide this year ... any suggestions to help me stay strong?

A: Sure! The key thing to think about is why you tend to slide. If you can identify the cause, then you can easily find the solution. In general, three things tend to make our Lenten resolutions less transforming than we would like them to be.

Start Small

First, they can be unrealistic. Some of us have the tendency to bite off more than we can chew. It’s like the former jock who hasn’t worked out for two years. She decides to get back in shape. But then she sets herself an Olympic-style workout program. She does it for two days, but it’s way too demanding, so she drops it.

What she should have done is start small – a 15-minute walk and some stretching every other day for two weeks, for example – then build back up to where she would like to be. In our spiritual lives we can make the same mistake.

We forget that climbing the mountain of holiness is a journey of small steps. And after trying to take a bunch of big steps (and falling down every time), we simply give up.

Root Sin

Second, our Lenten resolutions can be off target. This is an endemic problem for us post-modern Catholics. We see the fruits of spiritual immaturity in our lives (impatience, unchastity, loose tongue, judgmentalism…), and we start hacking away at them, like cutting back the branches of a tree. But all the while, we leave the roots unbothered. When that happens, the branches just grow right back, or flourish even more!

If we really want to make progress, we have to do our part to get to the root of our selfish tendencies. Do you know what your root sin is (we all have one)? Do you know its most salient manifestations? If so, then you will be able to choose a Lenten resolution that will help you aim your efforts effectively, and this will give you momentum and strength to persevere.

If you don’t, I would recommend that you make a Lenten resolution to take up 15 minutes of spiritual reading each day, and read some solid, truly instructional books that will help you get to know yourself (like Spiritual Progress by Fr. Thomas Williams, or This Tremendous Lover by M. Eugene Boylan). Or, sign up for an authentic spiritual exercises retreat.

Additionally, you may want to look for someone who can be a kind of spiritual mentor for you, or spiritual director. They can help you aim better. You can also find some information about what spiritual writers call a “program of life” here. (If you have some extra time, you may want to listen to this radio broadcast, where I talk a bit about holiness and root sins.)

Season of Grace

Third, we can suffer from impurity of intention. Sometimes even faithful Catholics can fall into giving things up for Lent for the wrong reasons. We can think more in terms of self-improvement than in deepening our friendship with Christ. If we do that, even in a subtle, subconscious way, we will run out of steam pretty fast.

Lent is not the season of Catholic self-help. Lent is a season of grace, given to us by the Church to draw closer to our Lord and prepare for the celebration of his Passion and Resurrection. Any Lenten resolution needs to be geared towards helping us open our hearts to that grace and drink it in. (You can find more reflections on the season of Lent here.)

Finally, don’t be afraid to alter your Lenten resolutions if you find they are not helping you live the season deeply. By changing them, you are telling God that you really are interested in drawing closer to him during these holy days. I will be praying for you, and for all our readers here on Faith and Family LIVE!

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What Sin is About? (Mooo!)

What Sin is About? (Mooo!)

Check out this great video excerpt from Fr. Larry Richards' talk. And get a handle on what it really means to sin.