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Vocation in the Church: Universal and Primary

The first time I had a thought about a vocation I was a child. My sisters and I would play Mass in our home. Always on the search for the perfectly rounded Lay's potato chip for the host, we enjoyed the idea of bringing something so sacred into something so familiar. 

National Vocation Awareness Week begins Nov. 5 and continues throughout the week as a way to teach and encourage our young people about the gift and variety of different vocations in the Church. This week we celebrate two aspects of Vocation in the Church: the Universal and the Primary. The universal call from God to each and every one of us is that we conform our lives to that of God’s Son, Jesus. Through our communion with Him we are sanctified, meaning we are made saints. The primary, or what is commonly referred to as "the big V vocation" in one’s life, is how we live that universal call to holiness. 

By Baptism we are consecrated to God, set apart for God’s purposes. As God’s life in us is strengthened by confirmation and nourished by the Eucharist and Reconciliation, we prayerfully begin to discern our state in life: ordained life, consecrated life or the life of the laity.

In the ordained state of life, a man may hear the Lord calling him to serve the Church as a deacon, priest or bishop. Each of these offices has particular graces and particular responsibilities for the building up of God’s holy people.

If someone is drawn to consecrated life, he or she may consider several different ways that God may be calling: as a consecrated virgin living in the world; to apostolic religious life (sister or friar); as a member of a secular institute or a contemplative institute; as a diocesan hermit; or as part of a monastic community as a monk or a nun.

In the lay state, a person discerns between married life and dedicated single life.
Although the focus of this week in our parishes and schools may highlight one vocation or another, the goal is to help raise awareness about the various possibilities within the Church for persons to explore how the Lord is asking them to make a gift of their lives and a gift of their love to others. 

Together, let us build a culture of vocations where our youth are inspired by the idea of the sacred coming close to them and in which the guiding principle for their lives becomes this prayer of their hearts, “God, help me to want what you want for my life.”

Check out a video featuring the priests of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington responding to the question, “What do you love most about being a priest?”
For more information and resources on National Vocation Awareness Week, visit: Vianney Vocations and the U.S. Conference o Catholic Bishops.
Father Jon Schnobrich is the director of vocations for the Diocese of Burlington.

This article was first published in the Nov. 4-10, 2017, issue of
The Inland See bulletin.
  • Published in Nation

Celebrating a Catholic Halloween and Thanksgiving

Fall brings with it several holidays that commonly are celebrated by Christians and non-Christians alike. While the secular focus of Halloween and Thanksgiving festivities can err toward consumerism and gluttony, the Christian roots and perspectives of these celebrations offer much more to celebrants. The word “Halloween” comes from “All Hallows’ Eve” (Oct. 31), which refers to the day before All Saints’ Day (Nov. 1). The noun “hallow,” which means “saint,” derives from the Old English adjective “hallowed” with which Christians should be familiar from its use in The Lord’s Prayer (“hallowed be thy name”). In some parts of the world, attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead remain popular All Hallows’ Eve traditions. Christians have been celebrating thanksgiving meals since the time of Jesus and continue to do so each time they celebrate the Eucharist. (The Greek word “eucharistia” means “thanksgiving.”) Before the American holiday was instituted by Abraham Lincoln to celebrate unity and thanksgiving, the Eucharist was instituted by Jesus Christ to unify the faithful in thanksgiving to God for all creation (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1359-1361). Below are a few ideas to celebrate Halloween and Thanksgiving the Catholic way.
Saintly sweets
Having a party? Here are some ideas to make candy dishes inspired by saints. Fill bowls up with each of these candies and label them with the saint to which they correspond. It’s is a great way for kids and adults to learn more about saints while enjoying some delicious sweets too. St. Barbara, patron saint of lightning and fireworks - Pop Rocks St. Bernard, patron saint of mountaineers and skiers - Andes mints St. Corbinian, patron saint of bears - Gummy bears St. Florian, patron saint of fires and firefighters - Red Hots St. Francis, patron saint of animals - Frosted animal crackers St. Isidore, patron saint of farmers -Candy corn St. Nicholas, patron saint of children - Sour Patch Kids St. Perpetua, patron saint of cows -Cow Tails St. Peter, patron saint of fishermen - Swedish Fish St. Rupert, patron saint of salt miners -Salted caramel chocolates
Be a saint for Halloween
Teach children about different saints by having them dress up as one. Pick a saint based on the name of your church, child, family member or favorite saint. Research, read and learn more about the saint you’ve selected. Most saints can be depicted using traditional costumes with some added items that symbolize the saint. For instance, a princess costume could be St. Margaret, queen of Scotland or St.
Isabella, queen of Portugal; add and carry a cross to be St. Brigid, a Scottish princess; or St. Helena, mother of Constantine the Great.
Giving thanks
Give thanks to God before your Thanksgiving meal with this Thanksgiving Table Prayer. O Gracious God, we give you thanks for your overflowing generosity to us. Thank you for the blessings of the food we eat and especially for this feast today. Thank you for our home and family and friends, especially for the presence of those gathered here. Thank you for our health, our work and our play. Please send help to those who are hungry, alone, sick and suffering war and violence. Open our hearts to your love. We ask your blessing through Christ your son. Amen
--From “Celebrating Faith: Year-round Activities for Catholic Families,” by Mary Cronk Farrell
Back from the Dead Cemetery Walk Sunday, Oct. 29, 5 - 8 p.m. at St. John Vianney Parish, South Burlington. This evening is open to the whole family. “Back from the Dead Cemetery Walk” is an engaging and inspiring evangelization drama to help teach the Catholic faith about the “Last Things” including teachings on the Communion of Saints, the angels and the three great virtues: faith, hope and charity. For more information: backfromthedead.org.
--Originally published in the Fall 2017 Vermont Catholic magazine.
  • Published in Diocesan

‘Outcasts’ to be screened

On Thursday, Sept. 28, at 7:30 p.m., there will be a special screening of “Outcasts” by Grassroots Films in the Grand Maple Ballroom of the Davis Center at the University of Vermont. “Outcasts” is a powerful new documentary from Grassroots Films that shows the work of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal as they serve the poor in some of world’s toughest neighborhoods. This moving film depicts the realities of life as experienced by drug addicts, women engaged in prostitution, people dying of AIDS, prisoners and others in desperate situations –- along with the efforts of the Franciscan Friars to share hope in Christ with them. 
In addition to the film, there will be time for questions for friars and one of the film’s producers and to learn about ways to get involved in outreach to those in need in the local community.
Prior to the screening, there will be a Holy Hour with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal at the Catholic Center at the university at 6 p.m.
The event is co-sponsored by Joseph’s House, the Catholic Center and the Catholic Student Association at the university. Tickets are required for the event and can be picked up at The Catholic Center, Davis Center and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
For more information, call 802-951-4290 or 802-862-8403 or visit outcaststhemovie.com.

Collection to help Harvey victims

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice-president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has called on the bishops to consider taking a special collection to support victims of Hurricane Harvey and to provide pastoral and rebuilding support to impacted Dioceses.
The collection will be taken in the statewide Diocese of Burlington Sept 2-3 or 9-10.
Burlington Bishop Christopher J. Coyne has requested that the special collection be taken at all 73 Vermont Catholic parishes. Funds given to the collection will support the humanitarian and recovery efforts of Catholic Charities USA and will provide pastoral and rebuilding support to impacted Dioceses through the conference of Catholic Bishops.
“God works through us to serve the greater community, especially in times of great need,” the bishop said. “We are called to be generous to the victims of Hurricane Harvey just as so many responded to our needs in the wake of Tropical Storm Irene.  Our prayers go out to the families that have lost loved ones and to all who have lost homes and businesses.”
  • Published in Nation
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