22 February – A St Laurence parishioner

At times throughout life, our thoughts may come to dwell on who we are and what we do…

Some years ago, there was a gathering of Jesuit schools’ lay chaplains at one of their termly conferences. This took place in the beautiful Sussex countryside.

The visiting speaker on that occasion was a Benedictine priest. He stood before us and put this question to us: What is your vocation?

We took it in turns to give our responses. Some said their vocation was as lay chaplain. Previously, their vocation had been as an engineer, a teacher or other professional. Some said that their vocation was as a parent, as a sibling, a son or daughter, as a spouse.

When we had finished, our visitor stood before us slowly shaking his head. No, he said. You are all loved by God. Your only vocation is to love God and to love others.

We sat in silence… I’m not sure if there is a collective noun for a group of lay chaplains but I think, what might have served well on that occasion is “an embarrassment of lay chaplains”!

How could we not know what our vocation is? He continued… your vocation is to love God and to love others. So, he said, if you have a job and you lose that job because of redundancy or retirement, you still have a vocation.

Should you become sick or disabled, you have a vocation. If a relationship fails… you have a vocation. If you lose a loved one and are no longer a parent, a sibling or someone’s son or daughter, a spouse; you continue to be loved by God and so, your vocation remains still… to love God and to love others.