Advice to foster it
Basic text for reflection
We have to create a true and specific vocational culture, capable of crossing the borders of the community of believers. This is a component of the new evangelization. It is a culture of life and of openness to life, of the meaning of existence, and also of the meaning of death.
It particularly refers to values that have been somewhat forgotten by a certain emerging mentality (culture of death according to some) such as gratitude, acceptance of mystery, the meaning of imperfection for human beings as well as their openness to the transcendent, their availability to allow themselves to be called by another (or perhaps by the Other) and to ask themselves about life, trust in oneself and in one´s neighbor, the freedom to be disturbed by the gift received, understanding, forgiveness, accepting that what has been given is undeserved and surpasses one´s own capacity and source of responsibility for life.
The capacity to dream and desire is also part of such vocational culture, as well as the amazement that allows us to appreciate beauty and to choose it because of its intrinsic value, because it makes life beautiful and authentic; the altruism that is not only solidarity in an emergency, but that is born of the discovery of the dignity of any human being.
A culture that is capable to find value and pleasure in the great questions concerning the future is opposed to the culture of leisure, which runs the risk of losing from sight and render void the true and serious questions. The great questions are the ones that make the small questions great. The small and daily answers are the ones that cause the great decisions, such as faith, or that create culture, such as vocation.
In any case, the vocational culture, as a set of values, must go from the ecclesial to the civil awareness, from a knowledge of the particular or of the community, to the conviction that we won´t be able to build a future on the model of a person without vocation. Indeed, Benedict XVI said: “The crisis the world of the youth is going through reveals, even in the new generations, urgent questions about the meaning of life, confirming the fact that nothing and no one can extinguish in the person the quest for meaning and the desire to find the truth. For many this is the field where the vocational search starts.”
It is precisely this question and this desire that give birth to a true vocational culture; and if the question and the desire are in the heart of the believer, so they are in the hearts of unbelievers. So, this culture could become a common ground where the believing conscience meets the secular one and confronts it. It will give to it with generosity and transparency the wisdom received from on high.
In this way, this new culture will be a true terrain of evangelization where a new model of person could be born and new holiness and vocations could arise. Indeed the scarcity of specific vocations—vocations in plural—is above all, a scarcity of vocational consciousness of life—vocation in particular—or rather the lack of a vocational culture.
This culture becomes today, most probably, the first objective of vocational ministry, or perhaps of all ministry. What ministry would there be, after all, one that does not cultivate the freedom of feeling called by God or produce a change of life?
PONTIFICAL WORK FOR ECCLESIAL VOCATIONS (Jan 6, 1998)