This summer I am traveling around my diocese giving talks regarding vocational discernment. Specifically, we are inviting men to consider a vocation to the priesthood as part of an initiative called the “Fiat Missions” through our Office of Vocations. At the parish we are speaking at this week, we were asked by the priest to reflect specifically on the Holy Trinity and the meaning of “vocation” since tomorrow is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. I thought that I would share my reflection here, although I have made a couple of small edits to fit the format of the blog. You can also visit our diocesan vocations blog here, where I am my fellow seminarians write about various experiences throughout our journey and how the Lord works in our lives.
Fiat Mission Reflection – 15 June 2014 – Trinity Sunday
Before I was Catholic, I lived a very worldly lifestyle. I was in college at the time of my conversion and I had a great job working in a local school district. I had a girlfriend, and my spiritual path aligned with the New Age Movement. For all intents and purposes, by worldly standards, I was a young person who was successful, on his way up in the world. I loved everything about my life. I loved me. But something was missing. Eventually, I discovered an emptiness, a sort of lacking in my life.
In today’s Gospel, and as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, I am drawn to consider, with everyone here, exactly what was missing in my life, in our lives, and perhaps what continues to be missing in some degree in so many other lives: true love. In the words of St. John today, we hear that “God so loved the world, he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” So many of us continue to miss this love of God, the love that the Father sends in the person of His Son. Before my conversion, I only loved myself; it was in no way a sacrificial love. What we see in today’s readings, however, is that the creator of the universe gave Himself, gave His son, for us. We continue to see that love, that self-gift, in the Holy Spirit. The saving mercy that we find in Christ continues to guide us all in the person of the Spirit here and now. In turn, we are called to live out the love of the Holy Trinity in our own lives.
Today, on Trinity Sunday, as complicated as the reality of the Trinity may seem, we need to focus on only one thing to begin grasping this beautiful doctrine that the Church presents us: love. In the Trinity, we see the love of the Father in creation, the sacrificial love and mercy of the Son, and the continued guidance of the Church through the love of the Holy Spirit. This love is constantly shared among all three persons of the Trinity, who continually give themselves to each other.
But! As we can see, this love is not some self-contained thing that remains in God alone! He gives us that love. But how do we respond? Do we respond by loving ourselves and the world alone, just as I was so intent on doing during my early college years? No, we must give that love back to Him, by loving Him with everything we can. So here, brothers and sisters, is where I get ready to challenge you: do you love Him? Do you love Him by not only coming to Church on Sunday and other days, but by everything you say and do throughout your lives? When those times come when that love does fall short, and this happens to all of us, do you return to His love in the sacrament of confession? Most of all, do you seek how to fully live a life of love, how to fully glorify Him in everything? St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, writes,
I know of no other means to reach perfection than by love. To love: how perfectly our hearts are made for this! Sometimes I look for another word to use, but, in this land of exile, no other word expresses so well the vibrations of our soul. Hence we must keep to that one word: love.
So the challenge is this, particularly for young people: just as God gave everything in His son, so too must we give everything we can back to Him, no matter how many times we may stumble. Ask God who He created you to be. Your vocation, whether you are called to married life, single life, religious life, or the priesthood, should be a vocation of love. Particularly for those young men considering priesthood, spend some time with the Lord, especially in the sacraments and through prayer in His presence before the tabernacle. I invite you to speak to a priest or seminarian about their vocation stories and what formation for the priesthood is like. Just like every other vocation, the priesthood is a vocation that should remain centered on love, on Jesus Christ. The love that we find in the Trinity, that sacrificial and self-giving love, is present in the life of the priest. How is God calling you to live a life of love? I don’t know, but I invite you to take the first step in finding out, in discovering how God beckons you to love Him and all His people.
Please pray for me, and know that we all continue praying for you.