Msgr. Schaedel’s letter for bulletin of February 11, 2001:
As I mentioned last week, somehow "Vocations Awareness Week" got past me. It was actually a few weeks ago. There was so much to write about in terms of what is happening at Holy Rosary, I had not said or written much about it. So this week’s letter is Vocations Part II.
As I said in last week’s bulletin, I think we have every reason to be filled with hope about religious vocations in the new millennium. We have just celebrated a Jubilee Year—a year of grace—a Year of Favor From the Lord.
A dimension of the Jubilee’s legacy might stem from the Jubilee Days devoted to the vocations of all Church members. Fostering a sense of vocation on every Church member’s part prepares what our bishops call a cultural "seedbed" in which specific vocations grow—including vocations to the priesthood and the religious life. The Jubilee’s legacy in this area may ultimately prove helpful in resolving what is called the Church’s "vocation crisis." (Although I agree with several priests and bishops who say that this "vocation crisis" is a manufactured "crisis" by those who have some sort of agenda of their own.)
In recent decades, too much emphasis has been placed on what priests or religious "do" rather than who we "are." Yes, we do what many other teachers, social workers, nurses, and the like "do." But it is who we "are" first that should set us apart and give meaning to our religious lives.
A Dominican theologian, Father Antonin Gilbert Sertillages, wrote: "The function of an apostle is not, strictly speaking, to explain the truth—that is the professor’s task—but to cause souls to confront the truth by doing so himself. The drama takes place in the consciences, not in an ideal realm where certain truths led the dance in partnership with other truths for the speculative entertainment of people, without involving anyone at all.
In the true relationship of spirituality with souls, it is not I, the speaker, who gaze upon truth and urge my hearers to do so; it is truth, which looks at us. I do not judge truth and invite others to do the same; truth passes judgment on us. The modern man is not satisfied with hearing only; he wants to see. What can we show him?
A person explaining the Faith waxes very important and very eloquent over what the Church has accomplished in the world. But I look for the spirit of don Bosco in him, or Saint Vincent de Paul in him, of the Christians described for us by the Acts of the Apostles. The truth is there!"
In other words, in recent decades we have had too many basically narcissistic people giving into themselves trying to find the truth, explain the truth, or even manufacture the truth. It does not work that way. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He judges us; we don’t judge Him.
And young people today want the truth. They want focus and meaning for their lives. And religious orders for men or for women who give them that will flourish.
From time to time, we place vocation literature from various religious communities on the bulletin board in the back of church. Feel free to take any of this literature with you. Make sure our young people see it!
I would also call your attention to the front-page article in the January 19th (vocations issue) of The Criterion. Our Director of the Archdiocesan Office of Pro-Life Activities, Sister Diane Carollo, is featured. She often attends Mass here and has spoken about the work of our Pro-Life Office at Masses. Sister is beginning a brand new religious order of women devoted to pro-life work. They are called the Servants of the Gospel of Life. What a chance for women with a pioneering spirit! Sister can be reached at 317-899-2376.
This spring or summer I would like for our parish to sponsor a mini-retreat for junior high and high school girls. It would focus on religious vocations and be conducted at a convent or motherhouse of Sisters somewhere within driving distance. If any parents would like to help, please let me know.
Young people today want the truth. When they find it, when they find a meaningful way to live their lives, they will embrace it with all that they have! There is a reason for great hope in the Church concerning religious vocations. I truly think we’ve been through the worst of it.
Our Valentine Dinner and Dance scheduled for Saturday, February 17th, following the 4:30 p.m. Mass. Do you have your tickets yet?
By now you’ve all figured out that I am on vacation—Hawaii and Florida, not bad, eh? A religious vocation does have its side benefits. I’ll be back next weekend. Keep me in prayer; know that I do the same for you each day.
Faithfully yours in God’s Providence,
Rev. Msgr. Joseph F. Schaedel