In Brazil, August is the month of prayer for vocations in the Catholic Church. The Sundays of this month are dedicated to a different type of vocation. It is also a time of preparation for a national congress on this issue to be held in September at Brazil’s largest Marian Shrine in Aparecida.
Deacon Robson Araújo dos Santos, C.Ss.R., responsible for the pastoral ministry of vocations in the Province of Rio, in an interview with the editors of “Akikolà”, talks about the importance of prayer in the process of vocation discernment and the need for spiritual accompaniment for young people who think about their vocation in the Church. He also presents the various pastoral initiatives of Redemptorists in Brazil. The interview was published in the August issue of the “Akikolà” monthly, published by Redemptorists in Brazil.
The month of vocation, celebrated in August, seeks to reflect and pray for vocations. What is the importance of this time?
The vocation month helps us to realize how important it is to turn our eyes and attention to vocation. It is the month to reflect on the importance of being called by God. It is a month in which the Church dedicates and invites us to pray for vocations. Each Sunday in August, we will pray for a specific vocation to show the people of God that the Church is not formed by a single vocation. On the first Sunday we will pray for vocations to the ordained ministries (deacons, priests, and bishops); on the second Sunday for the vocation to marriage; on the third Sunday for the vocation to religious life; on the fourth Sunday for the vocation of lay Christians.
Vocation is realized in the history of each person and is the most intense way of living divine love. When I discover God’s love for me, I place myself in the school of Jesus, which teaches us to build the Kingdom of God. For this, it is necessary to discern, to be attentive to the signs of the times, and to ask oneself: What is God’s call in my history? In what way can I help the world to be better? Where and how do I fulfill myself as a human being, a child of God?
This year’s vocation month has as its theme “Beloved and called by God” and the motto “You are precious in my eyes. I love you” (Is 43:1-5). What is the meaning of this inspiration?
This inspiration reminds us of God’s love for each one of us. It is important to keep in mind that it is God who takes the initiative to call us to this communion with Him. The motto refers us to the vocation of the prophet Isaiah, who recognizes God’s call and is aware that God calls him out of love. Like the prophet, we are invited to respond to that same call positively. The discovery of a vocation takes place when I feel loved by God and love my life story. In this way, it is possible to open up a horizon of meaning for the realization of the mission that God entrusts to us. Through baptism, we are introduced into the great family of the Father and we courageously place ourselves on the path of Jesus to face the challenges that life presents us. In this sense, the theme makes us reflect that action also means love because a vocation without love is not a vocation.
In August, this experience is intensified, but we know that vocation promotion takes place throughout the year. How do you perceive this vocational culture among the Redemptorist Missionaries, in the mission of awakening and raising awareness of vocation?
The Redemptorist Constitution No. 79 reminds us that we are all co-responsible in promoting vocations: “All confreres, therefore, in the measure of their esteem and love for their vocation, should dedicate themselves to the apostolate of promoting vocations to the Congregation”.
I believe that we are going to strengthen the vocational culture in our Province. And for this, the contribution of all the members is necessary for a springtime of vocations. The Redemptorist Vocations Office of our Province has produced resources such as prayers, vocation videos, and posts that help confreres and the people of God in this mission of “vocational awakening”. In these times when so much use is made of the media, we must use these resources so that more young people have access to Redemptorist spirituality and mission, so that they may awaken in them a desire to know our Congregation more closely and feel called to announce Plentiful Redemption with us.
How are the works of Vocations Ministry in the Province of RJ-MG-ES and how has animation been done in times of pandemic?
Some activities such as the Holy Week retreat and face-to-face vocation meetings have had to be postponed, but vocation accompaniment continues through the media: WhatsApp, phone calls, e-mails, online vocation lessons, lives, etc. Besides, we began to make vocational triduum projects, visits to those in need, material for prayer, and vocational reflection.
What is your advice to young people who wish or who have already thought about entering religious life?
May they be daring to respond generously to God’s call and not be afraid to seek what is different, because to be religious today is to seek to live the difference in the midst of what society often offers. The process of vocational accompaniment is a time of great self-discovery. It is also a time of discernment in the face of the calls that existence itself makes to us. Allow yourselves to be thrown into the deepest waters. Religious life is a life choice that leads us to consecrate ourselves totally to God, to make of our life, of our history, a giving of love to the Absolute. To spend one’s youth and one’s life for the Gospel is to make one’s life a gift to God and neighbor.
Juiz de Fora, MG
Courtesy “Akikolà”, Informativo da Provincia do RJ-MG-ES, No. 335, August 2020.