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  • Sarah Raad

Service

“The King of Heaven deigned to be born in a stable because He came to destroy pride, the cause of man’s ruin” (Saint Alphonsus Liguori).

Blessed Karl Leisner

I have been reflecting on vocations. The other day at my children’s Catholic primary school, one of the teachers blithely announced to the entire assembly of primary school children and their parents that teaching is a vocation.


Now, before I go any further, I wish to make clear that I do not believe that this woman was intentionally trying to do anything wrong in making this statement. Perhaps in her mind, she truly thought that she was correct in saying such a thing. But regardless of her belief, what she said was very wrong…


You see, what this teacher was saying trivialised the true meaning of vocation in our religion. A vocation is not a job… No amount of money or Earthly reward could compensate a person for their vocation, if what they were undertaking was actually a vocation…


While in our secular world, we can throw around the word VOCATION, making it synonymous with the word JOB, the true meaning of the word vocation does not correlate with job at all…


A job is some action that we perform in exchange for some financial or material benefit.

A vocation is a Christian response to the Divine call to a life of service.

A vocation is very different from a job, because if we are employed – even if we are employed in a job that serves others, in healthcare, in education, and in other areas – we are REMUNERATED for our services. And though we might even LOVE our jobs… I certainly LOVE mine, or we might even be willing to do ADDITIONAL WORK without additional compensation because we love our jobs so much… I certainly am. This does not change the fact that we do the actions of our jobs for material benefit…


A vocation is very different. Money does not compensate us for our vocation – GRACE does…


A Christian Marriage is one type of vocation, Holy Orders is another… Even the work of laypeople, like the Abdullah family in speaking of forgiveness, following their experience in the Oatlands Tragedy, or others like Scott Hahn who through his theology and philosophy, works to bring others to God, could be considered a vocation.


Teaching, is a job of service – I do this job and I love it – but it is not a vocation, because my primary purpose in completing this job is for the material benefits it brings me… In other words, I work for money…


Blessed Karl Leisner was a deacon when he was forced into a Nazi concentration came with almost 3,000 other priests during the Second World War. After spending 5 years in Concentration Camps, on 17 December 1944, knowing that he would soon die of tuberculosis, Blessed Karl asked a French Bishop to ordain him so that he could die a priest after celebrating Mass. On 30 December 1944, Blessed Karl offered his FIRST AND LAST Mass. He died soon after… The priests who attended this sacred Mass, spoke of witnessing the love and devotion on Blessed Karl’s face. It seemed to them, that he had been preparing for that Mass for his entire life…

It was the love that showed his vocation… The act of love…

“This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (John 4:9-11).


Saint Therese of Lisieux said… “Without love, deeds, even the most brilliant, count as nothing.” For, as Saint Bonaventure would tell us, “If you learn everything except Christ, you learn nothing.”

So, while it is terribly easy for us to pat ourselves on the back and call our jobs our vocations because we like them, are good at them, or work in a service sector, perhaps it would be better for us to understand the true nature of vocation first, before we make that decision…

A vocation is service, and service is love…

For, “The King of Heaven deigned to be born in a stable because He came to destroy pride, the cause of man’s ruin” (Saint Alphonsus Liguori).


And what greater service could there be than that?


For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.

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