Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Call to the Journey

“People die on this trail every year,” our Jesuit Volunteer Youth Minister said in a moment of frustration.  Did I hear that right?  People die on this trail every year!  He just didn’t say that during our parent gathering for our mission trip to Alaska?  I heard the laughter on the other side of the phone when I shared this with our Diocesan Director of Youth Ministry.  Needless to say, we ended up doing a different backpacking route. 

This journey would become one of many that would forever change my life and those I would serve.  In the coming months, I will embark on a new journey with the Franciscan Friars.  I've been tasked with providing online support and content for our vocation ministry social networking sites.  It will be my privilege and honor to journey with you. 

I begin our journey together with the sharing of my story...

During my junior year in high school I would receive the first of many callings.  In preparation for the sacrament of Confirmation I was asked to play the piano during our service.  The song selected was “Be Not Afraid.”  I spent a month preparing only to crash and burn during a practice Mass.  It started out all right until the choir director added the organist, along with the entire choir.  Next thing I knew I heard a dink, another dink, and finally dink, dink, dink until I could no longer play frozen in fear.

The song title changed from “Be Not Afraid” to “Be Very Afraid.  Afterwards, I scanned the church for the Confirmation teacher to plead my case.  “Do not make me play for Confirmation,” I said.  “You will do fine,” she insisted.  Two weeks later, I was sitting on the piano bench and repeating to myself, “Be not afraid, be not afraid, be not afraid.”  The choir director gave the sign, the song began, and the notes flowed from my fingers. Instead of the paralyzing fear of before, I became strangely aware of God’s presence. 

The refrain spoke to my heart, “Be not afraid.  I go before you always.  Come follow me and I will give you rest.”  I discovered a few months later that Jesus called my Confirmation Saint, Peter of Chains, with those same words, “Be not afraid.  Come follow me.”  As I read those words in scripture, I felt God speak to a desire within my own heart, "Come follow me."  Life hasn't been the same. 

After 15 years as a professional lay minister, I again found God calling to that desire within my heart "Be not afraid.  Come follow me."  This time the calling led to the Franciscan Friars of the Province of Saint Barbara.  Ten years later, I'm now tasked with assisting you on your journey of discernment.

I encourage you to remain open to God's calling in your life.  Be not afraid.  Have courage.  Others have gone before you on this journey.   Take solace in the knowledge that every discernment process is successful.  There is no failure! 

We are all tasked with the same vocation: "To Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself." (Luke 10:27)  How our vocation gets lived out is different.  Some of us are called to religious life as a brother, sister or priest, some are called to diocesan priesthood or the deaconate, others are called to marriage, and some are called to life as a single man or woman. 

Discernment is about discovering how best to live out our common vocation to love.  If you discern a calling to religious life your discernment was successful.  If you discern a calling to married life your discernment was successful.  There is no failure, only success!

Every week, I and my brothers will provide you with a new blog entry.   We'll share our own personal stories.  We'll share with you helpful tools in discerning a vocation to religious life.  Hopefully, you will find these post helpful in your discernment to religious life.

I look forward to my journey with you. 
May God bless you and keep you on this journey of faith called life!

Peace and all Good,
Bro. Scott Slattum, OFM

Richard Tandy, visited the Franciscan Postulancy Program in Portland, Oregon to discern a call to religious life.  Richard was married and has an adult son.  He discerned a call from God to live the second half of his life as a Franciscan Friar.

Personal Reflection:
According to the National Religious Vocation Conference new members to religious life are drawn to religious life primarily by a sense of "call."    In our blog I shared with you one of my "calls" to follow Christ.  How has God called you throughout your life to follow Him?  Please share your story in the comment space below.

Contact Information:

Franciscan Friars
Office of Vocations
1500 34th Ave
Oakland, CA 94601
Phone:  (408) 903-3422

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