Tuesday, May 10, 2011

"Every Person Carries a Project of God": On the Vocationists... and Vocations

Over the weekend, as the traditional Ordination Season begins in the global north, the Vatican's chief halo-maker -- B16's trusty prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato SDB -- presided at the beatification of the founder of the Vocationist Fathers, Fr Justin Russolillo (1891-1955), in the new Blessed's native Naples.

Given his spirit of devotion and generosity -- which saw him waiting tables and mending socks in his first attempt at founding a community -- even in his seminary days, it was said of Bl Justin that his confreres and formators felt themselves "in the presence of an angel" and that "if [only] we had 30 students like Russolillo, we would be the most envied seminary in Italy."

Of course, as Italian seminaries weren't lacking in aspirants in those days, just further proof of the value of quality over quantity.

Anyways, given the enduring presence of the new Blessed's community in locales ranging from Italy to Nigeria, India and the States -- and especially this time of year, which could rightly be called "Vocation Season" with all the ordinations, professions and weddings afoot among us -- some particularly salient words of the Pope's come to mind.

In early 2007, Benedict XVI spoke to the pastoral council of a Roman parish run by the Vocationists, offering them this unique, memorable message....
I am grateful for the beautiful poem that was presented to me; one feels that it wells up from the very heart of this community. I see that the gift of poetry is still alive in Rome, even in these rather, as it were, unpoetic times. I do not wish at this point to enter into demanding considerations and reflections. I would only like to thank the adult lay people who are building a living parish.

Here you have the Vocationist Fathers. The word "Vocationist" is reminiscent of "vocation". We can examine two dimensions of this word. First of all, we think immediately of the vocation to the priesthood. But the word has a far broader, more general dimension.

Every person carries within himself a project of God, a personal vocation, a personal idea of God on what he is required to do in history to build his Church, a living Temple of his presence. And the priest's role is above all to reawaken this awareness, to help the individual discover his personal vocation, God's task for each one of us. I see that many here have discovered the project that concerns them, both with regard to professional life in the formation of today's society - where the presence of Christian consciences is fundamental - and also with regard to the call to contribute to the Church's growth and life. Both these things are equally important.

A society where Christian conscience is no longer alive loses its bearings; it no longer knows where to go, what it can do, what it cannot do, and ends up in emptiness, it fails. Only if a living awareness of the faith illumines our hearts can we also build a just society. It is not the Magisterium that imposes doctrine. It is the Magisterium that helps enable the conscience itself to hear God's voice, to know what is good, what is the Lord's will. It is only an aid so that personal responsibility, nourished by a lively conscience, may function well and thus contribute to ensuring that justice is truly present in our society: justice within ourselves and universal justice for all our brothers and sisters in the world today. Today, globalization is not only economic: there is also a globalization of responsibilities, this universality, which is why we are all responsible for everyone.

The Church offers us the encounter with Christ, with the living God, with the "Logos" who is Truth and Light, who does not coerce consciences, does not impose a partial doctrine but helps us ourselves to be men and women who are completely fulfilled and thus to live in personal responsibility and in deeper communion with one another, a communion born from communion with God, with the Lord.

I see here this living community. I am grateful to the priests, and I am grateful to all of you, their collaborators. And I hope that the Lord will help you and enlighten you always.
This year's observance dedicated to the theme of "Proposing Vocations in the Local Church," in keeping with tradition the annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations will be marked this weekend for the 48th time, to coincide, as ever, with the liturgy's "Good Shepherd Sunday."