Reflections on the Meeting of National Vocations’ Directors, London, 5th Nov.

I was unable to be at this meeting, which was a pity, as it was something I had been looking forward to, but someone kindly forwarded on the notes of her talk. I remembered last years and enjoyed it; the talk was good but above all I enjoyed meeting those engaged in vocation’s work throughout this country.

Someone kindly gave me the notes from one of the speakers: Sr. Margaret Taylor FMM. The ‘FMM’ means, in case you don’t know, Franciscan Missionaries of Mary. And they do great work throughout the world. I remember meeting them in Jerusalem, where they had a community close to Damascus Gate in the Old City. Our own monogram is O.C.D. or O.D.C., depending on whether it is in English or Latin. I prefer the latin, as we are an international Order, hence I write after my name O.C.D. = ‘Ordinis Carmelitanum Discaltorum’. In English it would be: O.D.C., = ‘Order of Discalced Carmelites’. People often ask me what ‘Discalced’ means. Well, it literally means without shoes. In the 16th century, when we came into being, thanks to St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), there were other ‘Discalceds’: Franciscans and Benedictines, to name but two. There is a joke between the two Orders of Carmelites in this country: The Calced (or more properly: the Ancient Order of Carmel) and the Discalced (the newer Order). The joke is that they are shod [Calced] and we are slipshod [Discalced]!

Back to the National Vocations Directors Meeting. I just want to highlight a few lines that jumped out at me. The title of Sr. Margaret’s talk was: ‘Called into Being for the Kingdom’. She began with a quote from the famous Jesuit, writer and palaeontologist, Teihard de Chardin, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience”.  I like the way she starts and the line: ‘In Genesis God resolutely set out our Universal Calling as human beings to be Life Givers and Lovers’. And goes on to say, ‘[we are] called primarily to live as God has determined and love as God Loves’. That last phrase is awesome, ‘Love as God loves’, no less. We can ponder that for the rest of our lives. What it shows is the great dignity that is ours. If only we could become more aware of this dignity; this call to love as God loves.

I also liked this sentence: ‘If you know your own great story [the story of God that informs your life] you are less likely to sell yourself short, become confused with inessentials, or to let others manipulate you into being less than you could be. When we accept ourselves we are more compassionate with others.’ That’s very profound and true. There is a lot to dwell on and pray about. We are called to greatness, not to mediocrity; to A* not C-. And if we let God work in us and through us, then this will happen; it will be all His work. Just ask St Paul, St Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Therese of Lisieux, or any of the Saints. These were not supermen and women; they were ordinary people like you and me but who had great faith in God.

Another profound insight was in the sentence: ‘To open our lives to Transformation and so live from our true self, as Paul prayed that he no longer lives but Christ lives in him. We can then bless as we have been blessed, heal as we have been healed, liberate as we have been liberated…’  Such is our dignity, that we are called to be like Christ, to become like him. This is our raison d’etre; our mission in life: to become other Christs. All very profound, but true.

I’ll leave you with this final thought from Sr. Margaret’s talk: ‘…as we focus on our raison d’etre our personal development follows and we move toward our purpose, and God will lead us on the path He wants us on.’

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