Voices Online Edition
Vol. XVIII: No. 2 - Pentecost 2003
VOCATION. Calling. Within the few first hours of the Church's foundation on the day of Pentecost, three thousand people, by the power of the Holy Spirit, heard and answered the call of God.
"They were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, 'Brethren, what shall we do?' And Peter said to them, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children and to all that are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Him'" (Acts 2:37-39).
From the very beginning, as Luke records in his history of the early Church, Acts of the Apostles, Christians worshiped together, and celebrated Christ's sacrifice "in the breaking of the bread". Then and ever since, the Church has been centered on the Eucharist -- her "source and summit". Understanding this is fundamental to the Catholic faith, and Pope John Paul II's 14th encyclical, issued Holy Thursday, Ecclesia de Eucharistia, resonates with this truth. (On the day it appeared the entire encyclical was put on the WFF web site.)
On the day of Pentecost, the Apostles spoke in the many languages of those gathered in Jerusalem. The Church still speaks in many languages -- preaching the Gospel to every creature. And the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, is formed of all those who answer God's call to repentance, to take up their cross and follow Him, and to bear witness of His truth to all.
"Brethren, what shall we do?"
In this issue of Voices we explore a variety of responses -- and perspectives on those responses -- to God's call to serve Him. To Catholics, the word "vocation" usually connotes a calling to priesthood or religious life. Pope John Paul II's message on vocations inside primarily addresses this aspect of vocation.
An essay by a fourth-year seminarian, inspired by Ecclesia de Eucharistia, relates the priestly vocation to the Eucharist.
The icon of the Ministerial Priesthood on the back cover of this issue and its explanation inside, and an article on the priesthood written by the mother of a seminarian amplify the priestly vocation.
The vocation to the life of a religious sister is the subject of "The Call Within", and the nature of this calling is explored further in "Edith Stein and the Contemplative Vocation". A father whose daughter has entered a religious order offers another perspective on the meaning of vocation, not only for the person called to religious life, but to the person's family.
The call to holiness is universal. All are called to repentence, to conversion. Christ's call, "Be perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect" applies to every Christian. The lay vocation, though substantially different from the priestly "calling" or the call to religious life, is a genuine vocation -- though one that is too often ignored. Two of the articles inside focus on the lay vocation -- how Christian laity fulfill this calling.
We are sure you will find the unusual collection of essays on vocation as instructive and edifying as the WFF staff has. (And we hope you will be inspired join in the prayers and novenas for priests and religious vocations that appear within this issue.)
Voices - not crying in the wilderness
We have some good news to report -- and some not so good.
The good news first.
- There has been a tremendous response to our offer of "Welcome packets" (see inside back cover). We regularly mail out 20 packets every week.
- There have been 654,329 "hits" on the WFF web site from January to mid-May this year. Our total for the entire year of 2001 was 324,000. In April, we broke all our previous records with more than 208,000 "hits" (number of items accessed.)
Most of this increase is due to the "liturgical calendar", which provides information, prayers, scripture readings and suggestions for family celebration of the feasts and seasons of the Church year.
- Nearly a hundred new signers of the Affirmation for Catholic Women have been added this year.
- As always, we send a complimentary copy of every issue of Voices to every bishop in the United States, and we're sending copies to more parishes, seminarians, libraries, etc.
Our voices are being heard -- not only through Voices, but in our statements on issues affecting women and their families -- both in the Church and in the world.
But -- and here's the not-so-good news: We can't keep going without your financial help. All our support comes from donations. Unlike many other Catholic organizations, we receive no support from dioceses or other Church institutions. And unlike many secular women's organizations, no large grants from huge foundations come our way.
So we must appeal to you for help. Even though WFF has no payroll, relies on borrowed equipment, donated office space, and a superb panel of editors and writers, we cannot continue to publish Voices unless the money is there. It's as simple -- and as challenging -- as that.
Thus we are initiating an emergency campaign to raise enough money to pay for the next issue. Please see the flyer inside for more details -- and please keep us in your prayers.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Helen Hull Hitchcock
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