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March 17, 1961     The Observer
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March 17, 1961
 

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PAGE 8 Observer, Friday, March 17, 1961 ! i OLDEST BROTHER--Brother Maurus of the Benedictine Order, 91, is believed to be the oldest professed Brother in the order in the United States. He is shown above with his lilies iR the garden of Belmont Abbey, N. C. Questions on Vocations (No. 6) HOW DOES A PERSON OF 13 OR 14 KNOW WHAT HE WANTS TO DO WITH HIS LIFE? It is well to emphasize that we are dealing with a spiritual quantity here. You don't decide a religious vocation as you would a career in the world. It's different. It's in a class by itself. This is why we say "get the religious vocation settled one way of the other first. Then go on to the other things." Thus, a teen-aged boy or girl may not know twhat he or she wants to do--for sure. And no one expects this. When they en-! ter a seminary or novitiate at[ (Father an early age this is not to be Visitor) taken as a final, irrevocable step. It's only a trial run which may turn into the real thing later on. If it doesn't work out that way the true state of af- fairs will be discovered early, very early, as a matter of fact. The drop-out rate for the first year of seminary training is al- ways quite high, much higher than for those who have been studying six years or more. Conroy --- Our Sunday (A translation from the French of an article authored by a Brother X which appeared origi- nally in "L' UNION," a monthly pastoral review, Paris, July - August, 1959, pp. 21-24. Transla- tion by Brother J. Frederick, FSC, Saint Mary's college, Wino- na, Minn from LES ETUDES, Montreal. ) How do I account for my voca- tion? I might answer this ques- tion by going back over the his- tory of the events which led me to enter a Congregation of teach- ing brothers, and to stay and make my profession in it; by ex- plaining also how God continues to call me each day to serve him there. But that would be too long. What I should say and what appears to me to be the essen- tial thing is that this is the life I wanted and not another: the religious life and not the life of a Christian in the world; the lay religious life and not the priest- hood, the apostolic religious life and the contemplative life; the apostolate of Christian instruc- tion and not another. It is indeed the life that I am leading that I wanted; and I continue to want it such as I am leading it. The Certitude of the Call If I am a s k e d why I wanted and continue to want this life, there is only one answer I can give: because I believe that it is to this life that God called me and still calls me. This quite simply is the ultimate reason for my presence in a congregation of teaching brothers: I wanted and continue to want it, but in response to a call from Another. Because I believe that this Auth- or is the sovereign Master and that it is for Him to decide and for me to obey; because I be- lieve that He gave me life so that I might consecrate it to His service and that it is not my but His role to choose the place in which I shall acquit myself of "'CONSIDER THIS EXPERIMENT"--Christian Brothers teach in many high schools through- out' the United States. Brother Timothy above is watching as one of his students works on a physics project. this service; because I believe that this Other knows me infin- itely better than I know myself, that be loves me infinitely more .ban I can love myself, and that what He wills of me is the best for me. The certitude of this divine call never really left me: it resound- ed in the depths of my being very early. If it was sweet to hear it in the beginning, never did the difficulties later met in answering it nor the total ab- sence in certain prolonged peri- ods: of sensible attraction for this life, nor the inevitable de- ceptions, nor especially the ex- perience of my own- misery make me doubt the reality of this call. More than once I found myself in deep struggle against this call; if i had thought I had the right to choose myself, I would at times have Chosen an- other way. But I seem to have understood better afterwards that the will of God is not only imperative: it is also good and weet. As I move along in life, I understand better every day that it is important not only to love the God who calls me, but also to love the life to which he calls me. I see my vocation not so much an obligation as a grace. To This Life The certitude of being called to it and not to another. By ac- cepting me at the habit taking, by accepting my temporary and perpetual vows, the superiors of the institute to which I belong signified to me that they recog- nize in me the existence of apti- tudes to this life: these superiors were the instruments of the church, and thus of Christ and God, for my reception into a life I believed I was being called to by God. They were the minis- ters of the church empowered to receive in the name of God my total consecration to the service of God. All that is a very objec- tive guarantee that the interior call of which I was conscious is not illusory and that I am not deceived in believing that I can really answer God, give myself completely to Him in the state in which I am; I have only to take up each day of this life seriously, such as events, obedience, the duty of state, the rule and vows concretely constitute it. I am as- sured that through all this God continues to call me; I am as- sured by the same token of be- :ing able to answer and erve Him. On the other hand, some min- isters of the Lord helped me dis- cern the reality of the interior call of God to this life. I do not think that I shall ever be able to thank the Lord enough for put- ting on my path at the decisive hours priests who did not wish to be anything else for me but priests of Jesus Christ. At the starting point it was a priest who encouraged this child to follow the imperious attraction he felt for the life of the teaching broth- er, this child who was not a pu- pil of the brothers and whose games were very ecclesiastical! Later, at the time of the definite commitment, when all attrac- tion seemed to have disappear- ed, another priest had the wis- dom and the faith to ask only one question and to keep coming back to it: "What was the will of God for this man who came to him, a priest, to find light?" I Have No Priestly Vocation Like the majority of my confreres, I have at times been asked this question: "But ,- why~then are you not a priest3" I must admit that I do not under- stand why the question is even asked. But the answer is quite simply that God did not call me to the priesthood; or more simp- ly, I have no priestly vocation. I never perceived this interior call to the priesthood which pushes a man to go offer himself to the call of a bishop: and the church does not call to the" priesthood those who consecrate themge~lves to the Lord in the in- stitutes of teaching brothers. All this seems to me very simple: I am indeed conscious of the re- doubtable grandeur of the priest- hood; I know all that the Lord gives us by His priests. But it would not be better for me to be a priest (as the saying goes): the best thing for each one is to answer the call of God. Why am I a teaching brother? What is the meaning of this life? What is the mission of teaching brothers? What are we all look- ing for? Consecrated To God God first of all and even God alone. Like all the religious in the world, I entered "religion" to consecrate myself entirely to Him; to continually hear His word: to pray to Him more of- ten, to try to imitate Christ, and thus to "return" to the i Father. Like every religious life, the life of a teaching Brother of- fers me means of pursuing each day the realization of this ideal which is never reached: the word of God comes to me through Scripture, the reading of which is amply provided for, through the rule and superiors. The life of prayer is favored not only by the existence of "~ exercises of piety which sus- tain and nourish it, not only by a more intense liturgical life which aims at greater authen- ticity, but more importantly by an entirely religious atmosphere which helps to make one's whole existence a prayer, a "religi- ous" life. The imitation of Christ, of His filial life, takes on the particular form of a daily renewed effort to enter into the spirit of the vows of religic.n. And this effort takes place in "the Church;" Christ came to bring together the children of God who were dispersed; the re- turn to the Father is realized in a community which, like all re- ligious communities, seeks to re- discover the flame of the first community at Jerusalem, the ideal of the whole Church ~'.nd the first realization of the "re- ligious life." Anticipates Heaven This search for the living God done in concert with my broth- ers in religion already consti- tutes an apostolate by itself. In the Church and in the world, the life of a teaching brother offers, like every form of the religious life, a "public" sign which bears witness to the face of the earth that God is the sovereign Mas- ter, the unique richness, the only love; that he calls all men to live in Christ in whom bap- tism incorporates them the life of a child of God, and to live in the Church, that is to say, fra- ternally. Thus, this religious life an- nounces here below, by antici- pating it as far as possible, what will constitute for the elect the beatific life; accordingly, it tends to reanimate constantly the faith and hope of the Chris- tian people in eternal realities while at the same time arous- Contimted on page 9