A vocation within a vocation
By Guadalupe Rodríguez
Happiness is finding one’s true vocation in life. In today’s world the word vocation can take on many meanings. If you are in school the word vocation can mean a plan of study you wish to undertake in high school or college. In church we use it to identify our call to holiness through the married, single, or consecrated life in a Christian vocation.
Sometimes there can even be a vocation within a vocation. For many in the church, the permanent diaconate has brought us happiness beyond what we thought we could experience. It is a vocation within a vocation because we are first called to be good spouses and fathers, but then the Lord calls us into an even deeper relationship with him by serving the church while still fulfilling the first Christian vocation of spouse and father.
I was praying before the Blessed Sacrament when I first heard the call to the permanent diaconate in 2001. This “call” is different for everyone. Some hear the call through other people, some hear the Lord calling softly, and some, like me, need to be whacked with a two by four. As a rule of thumb, the call is never an audible voice but a very small voice for the ears of the heart. Some people discover it gradually over time through a lot of prayer and spiritual direction. Others are left stunned, bewildered and in awe…when the Lord speaks. I fall into the latter category. A few wrestle with discernment until the last years of formation; it is never very clear for these folks. Many never hear that small inner voice, but they “just know” as Mother Teresa of Calcutta often said.
When I heard the call in my heart, I thought I had been praying too long before the Blessed Sacrament and I thought I was hearing things, so I left stunned and bewildered. Two hours before Jesus can be a long time––when you are in law enforcement there are a lot of things to pray for, including your very life. I came back the next day to the adoration chapel and again I heard the call. This time I knew for sure that it was the Lord. But I was left wondering, “What do I do now?” To be honest I was embarrassed to even mention it to my pastor. Despite my insecurities, I finally got up the nerve to talk to him. He said, “I had already thought that the Lord might be calling you to the diaconate … I will recommend you.”
The role a deacon plays in the parish depends on the deacon and the parish. Here at St. Mary Cathedral in Austin, the regular weekly or monthly duties of deacons are celebrating baptisms, preaching homilies, offering funeral services, serving at Sunday Mass, blessing homes/objects, and con-validating marriages.. Some deacons can help more than others and no one is asked to place their family or work duties above the deacon duties. Family and work always come first!
Have you ever considered this vocation as a possibility? Does the responsibly or having to balance several obligations at the same time scare you?
Reprinted with permission from Catholic Spirit.