Heeding the call

“Let your imaginations soar freely along the limitless expanse of the horizons of Christian discipleship.”

When I heard the Holy Father make this statement at the youth and seminarian rally several weeks ago in Yonkers, N.Y., I must admit that I was a bit overwhelmed by the concept. In part, this was due to the surprise and blessing I felt at being at the rally. A few months ago I could not have imagined attending the rally, never mind standing among so many seminarians from around the country in the section closest to the Holy Father. Nor could I have imagined that in a crowd of 25,000, I would run into one of my dearest friends from college, and that I would be able to share this amazing experience with her. So when Pope Benedict XVI challenged the youth of America to allow our “imaginations to soar free along the limitless expanse of the horizons of Christian discipleship,” I could not help but reflect on my own situation and be grateful for the way that the Lord had blessed me despite my own lack of imagination.

Upon first glance, this statement is almost fanciful in tone. Who doesn’t like the thought of soaring freely in one’s own thoughts? However, as I have contemplated upon this idea I have realized that it is a challenge to the youth of America. The Holy Father addressed the crowd regarding a life of holiness, frequently referring to the lives of the saints. He reminded us of the diversity of these holy men and women, many of whom lived extraordinary lives in the midst of everyday circumstances. To accept Pope Benedict’s challenge to reflect on the infinite ways one can live a Christian life is to accept that the Lord is calling each of us to a life of holiness. It is to be open to the different ways God may be calling us to serve him in our own lives and in the life of the Church. It is to “...leave space to hear God’s whisper, calling you forth into goodness.”

On a fundamental level, openness to God’s call in our lives is openness to our individual vocations to the priesthood, religious life, consecrated life, single life or marriage. I was impressed and encouraged to stand in the midst of so many seminarians at the rally. These men, who stood at the front of the crowd, were an example to all of the youth present of an openness to God’s calling. Being open to the Lord’s call is not a simple or easy task, especially in our current American culture in which we are encouraged to imagine and live only for ourselves. However, it is a hopeful task. In the diverse ways we can live discipleship, Christ is ever present, immersing us in his grace so that we may live a life “marked by a sense of wonder.”

Denise Fortin, who holds a masters degree in Religious Studies from Providence College, is on the staff of the archdiocese’s Office for Vocations.

Heeding the call is presented in collaboration with the archdiocese’s Office of Vocations and is a forum for topics intended to motivate and inspire those considering a call to ordained ministry or religious life.