vocation

The New Secular Puritan Covenant

Thanksgiving brings back memories for Americans of the Pilgrims and Puritans, carrying out their “errand into the wilderness” to build a “city on a hill,” surviving that first bleak Massachusetts winter of 1620-21. As a kid, I remember that cutting out Puritan hats from black construction paper and taping them to the school windows was [...]

The Single Lay State Deserves More Attention

The Church recognizes marriage, the priesthood, religious life, and the single lay life as definite states of life. It happens, at times, that in the discussion and discernment of vocations the first three of these four dominate, and the single lay life gets placed on the back burner. Vocation websites have pages dedicated to spouses, [...]

On Daughters, Vocation & Human Happiness

The Sound of Music just finished its run at the college where I work, and my daughter had a part: Brigitta, one of the von Trapp children. Everyone in the production did a marvelous job, although (you’ll forgive me—I’m a dad) I think that my daughter gave an especially outstanding performance. Bravo! Another standout of [...]

The Harvest is Plentiful But the Laborers Are Few

On Sunday, Jan. 25, 1959, Pope John XXIII proclaimed that it was time to drag the church out of the Dark Ages and into the modern world. It was time, he said, to open the stained-glass windows and let in some fresh air. Shortly thereafter he convened the Council of Vatican II to implement his [...]

Monastic Life: A Life Without Choices?

Thou waitest for the spark from heaven! And we,    Light half-believers of our casual creeds,            Who never deeply felt, nor clearly willed    Whose insight never has borne fruit in deeds,        Whose vague resolves never have been fulfill’d;            For whom each year we see    Breeds new beginnings, disappointments new;        [...]

Knowledge without Wisdom

There is nothing wrong with vocational training; a fulfilling career is an important part of a good life. Much of my academic work over the years has been devoted to career preparation. I was once a Dean of Medicine and there are few more vocational courses than medicine. Our students were all bright but they [...]

Common Wisdom: Being There

There was a great hullabaloo recently in our local press about the awarding of a medical degree to one of my neighbors. She had decided, at the age of forty, to become a physician. There was a lengthy interview, accompanied by a beaming photo. The awed journalist asked how on earth this belated vocation had [...]

A Valiant Woman

Early in May, Edith Stein will be beatified. Who was this remarkable woman? German newspapers have been reporting unofficially that, during the first days of May of this year, Pope John Paul II will arrive in the city of Cologne to beatify Edith Stein, noted German philosopher and Catholic feminist who was martyred at Auschwitz [...]

Preparing for the Synod on the Laity

The lay state is, of course, the normal condition under which life is led. The priesthood is defined in relief against the lay state. A priest in any culture is one set apart to mediate between God and man. He is the offeror of sacrifice on behalf of the people, the master of rite and [...]

Preparing for the Synod on the Laity

While a synod on the laity isn't as dramatic as a re-examination of Vatican II, this one is probably even more significant. So much of the absurdity and pain in the Catholic Church today stem from massive confusion over the role of the laity. One of the best statements on the role of the Catholic [...]

Preparing for the Synod on the Laity

Although the term "the faithful" is comprehensively applicable within the Church, it is commonly used to designate the laity. The faithful — it is a praising and pro-vocative term, telling us, if not so much what in every instance we actually are, what unquestionably we should always strive to he: Faithful. We are all well [...]

Preparing for the Synod on the Laity

I am probably not the likeliest contributor to a symposium on the vocation of the layman since I don't usually do the sort of things better Catholics do, like being active in the "faith community," the "parish family," and suchlike. Nor do I find myself caught up in any of the partisan movements which, to [...]

Preparing for the Synod on the Laity

Most deeply, the vocation of the laity in coming decades will be what it has always been: to evangelize the world. That truth may seem too obvious to mention, but it was missed in a recent survey taken to prepare for a coming synod in a large Midwestern diocese. On the list of concerns of [...]

Preparing for the Synod on the Laity

The situation of the Church today, in regard to the lay vocation, is extraordinarily paradoxical. A staple topic of the last twenty years has been "the emerging layman" in the Church, and there is no question that the laity are now much more visible. Yet there is currently a very strong tendency, even among those [...]

Our Tradition: The Restless Soul of Thomas Merton

In his early years as a monk, Thomas Merton tried determinedly to give up writing, convinced that it was a worldly occupation and hence incompatible with his monastic vocation. He met determined opposition in this effort, opposition incongruously provided by his religious superiors. Their argument — that Merton should consider writing as part of his [...]

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