The following piece is by Deacon Raymond (Tucker) Cordani, who will be ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts on June 4th. It originally appeared at Catholic Lane and is reprinted here with permission.
In the 1980 film Oh, God: Book II, 11-year-old Tracy Richards believes that God is talking to her. In fact, God (played by George Burns) wants Tracy to tell everybody she knows that he is real. So she does. She drafts a slogan and message, just two words, is conclusive and clear:
She posts the slogan on bumper-stickers, t-shirts, park benches, and carves it into tree trunks. But when Tracy’s parents find out what she is doing they think she’s crazy and they order her to stop. A prophet is not without honor except in his or her hometown (Mark 6:4). They didn’t believe John Denver either when he told them that God was talking to him too in the first Oh, God! movie.
Tracy is convinced that God has a message for the world. She is willing to do whatever it takes to become his messenger, even if it means ridicule from classmates, family, and friends. She has no doubt, no fear, and she will not be silenced. Nor should we, for God has something for each one of us to tell the world.
Yesterday was World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Pope Paul VI established this day in 1968 to emphasize the importance of encouraging Catholics to live lives of service and holiness in the Church. It is a day to think more about God, to trust him, to surrender, and to thank him for his continual presence. I know I do. Six days out of the seminary, twenty days from ordination, I am in a unique position to talk about this subject. God works through messengers, and I believe that I am in the right place at the right time. This is a slam dunk. Short of offering a distillation, a “brain drain,” of four years of philosophy and theology I can tell you that, upon graduating last week, I came to the same conclusion that compelled me to enter seminary in August 2007, the reality of my vocation, and in just two words:
We must submit to his will. A vocation in the Church–any vocation, not just priesthood–is divinely inspired. This is what we as Catholics believe. God chooses and sends us today as he did the apostles. Each of us has a divine mission, we receive it at baptism, and carry it out during God’s successive intervention in our lives, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. Surrender IS an option, and I recommend it highly.
At certain moments this call to follow Jesus becomes more and more intense. And though we are called to serve God in different ways, there are still some elements of a vocation that make us all the same. Any one of us could say: “At last I came to believe that God was talking to me and that I had to surrender. I didn’t think that he would get a hold of me but he did. He didn’t ask my permission but when I knew that it was him I opened up and let him in. Now my life is changed forever and I can no longer live the way I used to ever again. But then, why would I want to? God’s plan for my life is bigger and better than anything I could have dreamed up.”
In short: I SURRENDER.
That’s what Saint Peter said that day on the shore of the Sea of Galilee when our Lord approached him and said: FOLLOW ME. Peter then received the Holy Spirit and when he entered the temple to give thanks the power and presence of that spirit within him attracted crowds of awestruck pilgrims. Saint Luke writes in the Acts of the Apostles that three-thousand people accepted the universal message of salvation and converted based on one sermon by Peter. This man had a way with words. He said: “You will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is made to you and to your children and to all those far off, whoever the Lord our God will call” (Acts 2:39).
Peter says to the crowd, says to each of us here now: LISTEN UP: God saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our will but according to his plan through Christ before the world began (see 2 Timothy 1:9). Hearing the truth about Jesus, who he is, what he has done, makes us want to be disciples, to carry out God’s plan for us established in the divine. Let that be our slogan. Post it on Facebook; text it to friends, family, classmates, colleagues, slap it on a bumper sticker, and wear it on the lapel. Two words, simple, honest, taken from the heart: