The United States bishops have designated this full week in November to be Vocations Awareness Week, in which Catholics and all people of good will are called to discern the vocations God has given us.  The St. Theresa of Liseaux wrote that, as the different types of plants give a garden for the fullness of its beauty, so the different callings all bring forth the full splendor of the Church.  Priests stand in the person of Christ Himself in the sacraments, in teaching and in guidance, sharing part in the role that Christ gave to the original apostles, the first shepherds and bishops of the Church.  Deacons, such as St. Stephen the first martyr, assist the priests and bishop in teaching, in liturgies, and in the administration of charity.  Religious sisters, such as those who taught many of us in school, are, on behalf of the Church, mystically espoused to Christ in a life of prayer and good works.  Religious brothers, such as Dominicans, Franciscans, and Jesuits are, like John the Baptist, consecrated as witnesses to the Gospel.  Married couples are called to reflect to love between Christ and the Church, unshakable, faithful, grace-filled, and life-giving; and families are meant to be domestic churches in which the glory of God is lived out on earth.  And those in consecrated single life are called to use their liberty and abilities to promote the Kingdom of God.

This week the Church especially reminds us of the fact that all of this life is meant to be the fulfillment of a destiny set forth by God.  All people who are not yet committed to a vocation should consider, pray about and explore the full range of vocations that God may be calling you to; we should never put artificial limits on the grace of God.  And all of us who are committed in a vocation should realize that, as any good farm or business strives to be ever more productive and fruitful, so too with the grace of God and our faithful cooperation, each month and year will bear unique fruitfulness and glory for His kingdom.  And, like Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist, families should rejoice when God calls a member to a special life consecrated to God.  If people we know seem like they may be called to priestly or religious life, we should encourage them in that vocation.  At every Mass the Holy Spirit comes upon the bread and wine we offer and makes them the Body and Blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Himself, His most powerful gift to us on earth.  So too, God calls each of us by name to offer our lives to Him, so that He may sanctify them and make them reflect the splendor of His Church.