Welcome to National Vocations Week, everyone. The week where we--well, actually, I don't know what happens on the ground here. It was mentioned (in one of my pastor's excellent homilies) this Sunday. But beyond that....
I know there are lots of theories out there, people. Why are there fewer vocations to the priesthood, consecrated life, sacramental marriage than in years past? Could it be smaller families? Lack of commitment? Haven't been invited? Haven't seen more vocations up close and well-lived? The posters don't have enough pop references? The state of youth ministry stinks? Too busy? Bad press? Misunderstandings about celibacy? No misunderstanding about celibacy at all ("that's the point--I get it! No sex!")?
Is it because we have 1.4 kids per family who play soccer on Sunday mornings, bury their heads in Nintendo DS's or Seventeen Magazine, get their theological education from Glee and the New York Times, and whose
--Please. I don't think so. Sounds like a set-up to the brilliant kind of conversion story God loves to write. Of course Mr. "Whatever" Kid could have a glorious vocation. Don't we all have a glorious vocation?*
The answer, actually, is obvious. We don't know the Holy Spirit.
We don't have a vocation crisis, we have a RECOGNIZING THE HOLY SPIRIT crisis. Oh, of course the Holy Spirit is present in our midst. Not denying that! But who recognizes the Spirit anymore? If we did, how could we not live in happiness, bearing each others' burdens, stand before the world in constant awe? How could we not pray always? How could we not run to give our lives to others for God?
1. Say "anyone but me Lord" to the spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians (esp. speaking in tongues)
2. Treat worship like infotainment
3. Mentally picture Mo Willems' pigeon as an image of the Holy Spirit**
Even the sacrament most identified with the Spirit--confirmation--is an unholy mess of misunderstandings and mispresentation. Go to an average high school confirmation and you'll be wondering--this is what the Pentecost was about? Or, more to the point, you won't.
The Holy Spirit is an advocate, people! A divine person on your side, by your side, heck, even IN side...you're his TEMPLE! Think about that! You should be getting goosebumps right now! ...But we look around and basically say "meh."
So, you want to cure the vocations "crisis"? Tell people to open their eyes to the Holy Spirit. Introduce them to Him! He's right there and he wants to tell you what your vocation is, for crying out loud. It's not supposed to be THAT great a mystery. God has a plan, and wants you know about it through the awesomeness that is the Holy Spirit.
Now go re-read Acts and 1 Corinthians, start wrapping your mouth around the "charismat..." word, and open your heart. Over and go out.
a "Still stunned after all these years" Temple of the Holy Spirit
* Go to catechism, see "baptism" in index.
**Knufflebunny is likely a disordered attachment to the mutable good.