For several days now, I have been pondering this message that has come with the rosary novena we have posted for unbelievers. Over and over I keep hearing the words of Our Lady that says, “…your Christian vocation…” Below is the message for the sake of this posting.
“Dear children! Today I invite you to comprehend your Christian vocation. Little children, I led and I am leading you through this time of grace that you may become conscious of your Christian vocation. Holy martyrs died witnessing I am a Christian and I love God over everything. Little children, today also I invite you to rejoice and be joyful Christians, responsible and conscious that God called you in a special way to be joyfully extended hands toward those who do not believe and that through the example of your life, they may receive faith and love for God. Therefore, pray, pray, pray that you heart may be open and be sensitive for the Word of God! Thank you for having responded to my call.” (11/25/05)
This message hits me right where I am at in these days, and that is the call to go deeper into the mystery of the marriage vocation that I live as my way of salvation, for this the vocation I am called to.
Now does that sound odd to say? Well it’s true. It is not my marriage. The sacrament of marriage belongs to the original author of marriage and to the Church He established. I participate in the sacrament of marriage as the vocation I was called to by God; that is called to serve and the way I choose to live my cross through another.
The marital union has existed since the beginning of creation between a man and a woman, and from the beginning it was meant to be sacred and holy, as an imitation of the mystical union of Jesus Christ with His Bride, the universal Church, and before Jesus it was man’s relationship with God and how to live in fidelity as God’s people.
In the marriage union with Jesus Christ as the bridegroom, there are multiple parts of his body in the one union where the living members are called to serve in the body of Christ, and to become fully alive and one with her Head.
Here is what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about fulfilling your Christian vocation:
CCC 2030 (Article 3; The Church, Mother and Teacher)
“It is in the Church in communion with all the baptized, that the Christian fulfills his vocation. From the Church he receives the Word of God containing the teachings of ‘the law of Christ.’ (Gal. 6:2) From the Church he receives the grace of the sacraments that sustains him on the ‘way.’ From the Church he learns the example of holiness and recognizes its model and source in the all holy Virgin Mary; he discerns it in the authentic witness of those who live it; he discovers it in the spiritual traditions and long history of the saints who have gone before him and whom the liturgy celebrates in the rhythms of the sanctoral cycle.”
According to paragraph 2030 here, the Christian finds the identity of his vocation in the Church for these reasons:
a. He receives the Word of God with the teachings of the Law of Christ
b. He receives the grace of the sacraments that sustains him on the journey through life
c. He learns the example of holiness
d. He recognizes the model of holiness is from the source of all holy, the Virgin Mary whom Jesus patterned His bride after. (Just a note, what good Son wouldn’t want His bride to look like His own mother right – holy and pure, spotless and without blemish)
e. He discerns ‘authentic’ witness to those living the faith
f. He discovers his vocation in spiritual traditions and the long history of the saints who have gone before him, and in the continual cycle the liturgy celebrates
The primary order of man’s vocation in life is to make God manifest by acting in conformity with His creation in the image and likeness of God. (CCC 2085) Isn’t this what Our Lady is saying in her message when she said,
“….rejoice and be joyful Christians, responsible and conscious that God called you in a special way to be joyfully extended hands toward those who do not believe and that through the example of your life, they may receive faith and love for God…”
By your life give a visible witness that God is in the first place in your life. As a great saint said, ‘preach the gospel always, use words if necessary…’
The Christian vocation is a call to holiness in whatever state in life you live (Dogmatic Constitution of the Church, Lumen Gentium). That is the Christian is called to live a beatitude way of life as Jesus preached on the Sermon on the Mount (Mt. 5). Blessed are you if you do these things He said. Not to talk about it, but live it.
More so, the Catechism speaks about how to live in the body for the Christian vocation….
CCC 2031 “The moral life is spiritual worship. We present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, (Rom.12:1) within the body of Christ that we form and in communion with the offering of His Eucharist. In the liturgy and the celebration of the sacraments, prayer and teaching are conjoined with the grace of Christ to enlighten and nourish Christian activity. As does the whole of the Christian life, the moral life finds its source and summit in the Eucharistic sacrifice.”
We so often forget that our human bodies;
(1) Do not belong to us, but they belong to God;
(2) The human body is created in the image and likeness of God, it is meant to be kept holy for God;
(3) The human body is the temple of the Holy Spirit;
(4) The human body receives the living God in the Eucharistic species. “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood you have no life IN you.” (John 6)
Stop for just a moment and carefully reflect on this one scripture for a several moments; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 if you question this saying.
This is only one of several scripture references that refers to the sacredness of the human body. And this scripture passage is most direct and to the point. You have been purchased at a price. Jesus paid a great price for the sake of your life. He shed His blood. Do not think that if we abuse the human body that this will not go un-noticed on the day of judgment, because God will not take that lightly. We need to repent of any evil done to the body.
Therefore, we must live a holy and chaste life in the body for the sake of the kingdom of God, and for the salvation of the souls. If we want to know what holiness looks like in the body, we only have to look as far as the Mother of God who is perfect in her body, spotless, without blemish, the Immaculate Conception.
However to understand, and to put things in its proper perspective, to live your Christian vocation is first and foremost the number one call of one who says they are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ.
Now a Christian vocation can look like any of the following in the whole scope of the universal church;
– Priesthood; men chosen by God to shepherd his people; and ordained sacrament of the Church
– Religious; consecrated men and women who offer their lives in the body to serve the Lord for the sake of His kingdom
– Missionaries; those who devote their lives to serve the poor and spreading the gospel to bring Jesus Christ into the world
– Marriage – instituted by God
– Even Singles but must live in chastity for the sake of the Kingdom of God
– Youth must live modestly and in purity in the bodies, obedient to their parents and guardians over them “in the Lord.” (that is children must obey under the law of God. If a parent is not living the law of God, the child is first to obey God).
Let’s put aside for a moment our careers as a though of a vocation. First and foremost as a Christian you are called to live the commandments of God, and the first commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul, and neighbor as yourself.
The vocation you participate in is primary to any other trade vocation you may participate in. There is a difference between your job as a trade vocation, and your vocation to serve God, which is for the sake of building the Kingdom on earth.
For a priest, he lives both his job and his vocation in the same as a man of God, in the person of Jesus Christ, and spiritual fatherhood to the Church whom He serves.
For a religious or missionary, the primary purpose one feels called to such a life, is the desire to serve God and His Kingdom through a life of prayer and serving the poor. Yet all is an offering to God first, and then to neighbor second.
The Sacrament of Marriage and Family life has its own unique role and is the make up of about 90% of the Church, and it is the most disordered in its primary purpose.
First of all, let’s look at the discernment process of these vocations. Keep in mind the gift of marriage is authored by God Himself. God had a design for marriage from the beginning of man’s existence.
However today, the majority of men and women don’t even give it a second thought of discerning their vocation, nor discerning their perfect spouse. Couples are too quick to jump into the fairy tale idealism of marriage for their own sake, and not for the sake of the Kingdom of God. I know this to be fact, one because I was one of them, and also because I am surrounded by countless couples who are married.
Now a priest or religious will discern for years their vocation all the way up to when they profess their final vows.
If married couples took the time to discern and digest what God’s plan is for marriage, and the in depth mystery of the vows that are said on that holy day, then I doubt that we would be having the crisis in marriage and the family that we are today, and we would see fewer divorces.
One of the beautiful gifts of the Croatian people in the marriage right unlike the American way is that the Croatian people profess their vows on the crucifix. They understand that the vocation that they are entering is their path of the cross through the other, and that they are choosing this path of salvation towards heaven. There are no divorces in Medjugorje. A miracle in itself!
The culture of this people know the meaning of suffering and hardship, for they lived under oppression for hundreds of years.
So what is it about our modern day culture that thinks of itself to be so advanced and progressive, and has lost is heritage? I say it’s but only a matter of convenience. It is easier to run from the cross than to face the cross.
Going back to the marriage tradition of the Croatians, that same crucifix that blessed their marriage is also what hangs over the marital bed of the couple, as a reminder of the vows they professed sealed in the blood of Jesus. It has to be taken to heart that these vows actually mean something.
Let’s just say for one moment, which would by the way never happen. But for the sake of discussion, what if Jesus said, “Ah, no thank you. I’m not going through that for the one I love…” Then those who died for his name, died in vain.
Jesus allowed himself to be crucified to show every generation of human beings that the price He paid is worth dying for. His hands and His feet are nailed to the cross. That means it is permanent and He’s not going anywhere. This is what He calls to those who say they are His, that they live their Christian vocation to the point of death, either dying for ones spouse to himself or herself, or shedding blood for the sake of His name.
Remember, Our Lady’s words above, “holy martyrs died witnessing, I love God above everything…” For the martyr it did not matter what the world thought about them, they had God in the first place, and just like Jesus died from the world, to prove to the world it was worth it.
Look now husbands and wives at your spouses.
Is your spouse worth dying for?
Are your children worth dying for?
Do you have the courage to die for another and lay down your own pride and your selfish desires?
Does it matter if they don’t show their appreciation in the eyes of God? No it doesn’t you must do the right thing anyways…as God sees all things and knows all things. Do what is good for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
“Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the Church…” (Eph. 5)
In other words, husbands die for your brides! Do what is necessary to let your wife know that she is loved by you. That is not run off with the boys and leave the wife behind. That is not chasing after the dream job at the cost of never being home with your family. The primary vocation of marriage is to serve God first, and then your spouse.
“…you husbands should live with your wives in understanding showing honor to the weaker female sex since we are joint heirs of the gift of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered…” (1 Peter 3:7)
Husbands do we hear these words? The salvation of your family is on you. The eternal future of your children depends on you. Are you leading your family to sin, or to life?
Your are the head of your family, and you will answer to God Himself who placed you in charge of your family to be his image, His representative of the Father’s love. You are to be the image of Jesus Christ and the model for your families. And the catch is here, is if you want God to hear your prayer, this is how you must live! God is watching!
Children are third in line, and then career. Another disorder in the family today is the parent putting children first before their sacrament. All the love is poured out to the children, their activities, their school and the days are busied up with busyness. Families need to be together in the homes, eating together and must above all things make time to pray together.
Now ladies, listen to these words, as a woman to other women, “Wives be subordinate to your husbands…” (Eph. 5) May women shutter at these words, I know this, because I used to be one of them. But I have learned and have come to a deeper understanding to its meaning and live it to see the fruits of this mystery.
If husband and wives are living under the plan of God, there is a natural order in God’s plan of creation. God created man says the book of Genesis, “he created him male and female…” in His image and likeness. (Genesis 1:27) Male and female are equal in their human dignity as both are in the image of God, but they are much different by their nature. Each man and woman has their own natural gifts.
The woman by nature is the weaker female sex. The make up of a woman is of a softer heart, and moves more with emotions. Men were created to guard and care for God’s creation as gift. Woman is created out of man and is God’s created gift for man.
The burden of responsibility falls upon man to lovingly give up His life for his bride. If the husband is living out his role as God has ordained to be, then wives will naturally follow the lead of the husband all in the name of love.
When a wife is combative with her husband, then problems usually result. It was because Adam listened to His wife and disobeyed God that sin entered the world. It was no mistake the serpent went to the woman first, who is the weaker of the sex. It knew what it was doing. But in the garden scene, God convicted Adam for not defending and protecting his wife, and from here is where the curse and divisions began. God made it very clear from the beginning, husband is head over his wife. (Genesis 3)
It was the sin of Adam that Jesus came to redeem who became the New Adam. And who was He giving His life for? His Eve, beginning with the New Eve who is the model and pattern of His Bride, the Church. But we need to pass through Jesus to be created as new creatures. And the way to Him is through the Blessed Mother.
This is such a beautiful mystery to behold. And this mystery is gifted in the gift of vocations founded in the universal Church.
If we understand our vocations as such then we have a new way and a deeper meaning for living them for the sake of God and His Kingdom.
Couples will not rush in haste to have the shot gun weddings, nor will they seek to co-habitate for self seeking pleasures for free sex. Living has a purpose and a meaning now.
Honestly there is so much more to be said here about living the Christian vocation, but this is something that must be searched for in the individual heart. Come to know your identity and who you are…seek the Lord with all your heart; and there is where you will find your treasure….
“Finally all of you be of one mind, sympathetic loving toward one another, compassionate, humble. Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult, but on the contrary a blessing because to this you were called, that you might inherit a blessing…” (1 Peter 3:8-9)
“Holy Family Workshop, Tools for Todays Marriage and Family, Living the call of Medjugorje”