October 28, 2016

2016 Vocations Supplement

Vocations discerned through encountering Jesus in prayer, service

By Father Eric Augenstein

Father Eric AugensteinThe first line of the homily is the one that has stayed with me. Gathered with a few million young Catholics for World Youth Day this past July, Pope Francis began his homily by saying, “Dear young people, you have come to Krakow to meet Jesus.”

We might be tempted to think that the young Church gathered at World Youth Day was there primarily to see the Holy Father, walk in the footsteps of the great Polish saints, make new friends from around the world, or listen to some of the best-known Catholic speakers and musicians of our time.

But that would be missing the point. World Youth Day was all of these things—but none of it would matter if we did not meet Jesus Christ. “Dear young people, you have come to Krakow to meet Jesus.”

It’s so simple—and yet that simple statement goes to the heart of not only an event like World Youth Day, but the journey of discipleship.

To be a disciple is to have met Jesus and to pledge to continue encountering him—learning from him, following him, striving to be like him.

We meet Jesus in the sacraments, in prayer, in Scripture. We meet Jesus in the friend, or stranger in need of love and compassion. We meet Jesus reflected in the lives of other disciples. We meet Jesus in the silence of our hearts, and in the joyous uplifting of voices in song and prayer.

Sometimes, we meet Jesus in planned encounters; other times, he takes us by surprise.

To grow in discipleship is to meet Jesus on a regular basis. To meet Jesus on a regular basis is to grow in discipleship.

The same thing is true for vocational discernment. The best way to discover our particular vocation—the unique way God is calling us to follow him—is to grow in discipleship, to regularly encounter Jesus Christ in prayer, Scripture, sacraments, community and works of mercy. And the living out of a vocation continues the same pattern—to be a good and holy priest, husband, wife, deacon or consecrated religious, we need to regularly meet Jesus and invite him into our lives.

Speaking recently to a group of diocesan vocation directors, Cardinal Gerald Cardinal Lacroix of Quebec, Canada, reiterated what many others have said: “The strength of a priest depends on his relationship with Christ—a living relationship with Christ, so that the priest sees as Christ sees and loves as he loves.”

The same is true for all vocations—starting with the universal call to discipleship.

In the pages of this year’s Vocations Supplement, you will read stories of men and women who have met Jesus along the journey of their lives—and continue to encounter him as they discover and live their vocations.

As you read these stories, I encourage you to reflect on your own journey of faith. How have you met Jesus in your own life? In those meetings—those encounters—how has Jesus called you to follow him?

Along the way, if you hear the call to discern the priesthood or consecrated life, let me know—I’d be honored to walk the journey of discernment with you.

(Father Eric Augenstein is vocations director for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis. He can be contacted at eaugenstein@archindy.org.)

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