146 Metlars Lane, Piscataway, NJ 08854 | T: (732) 562-1990 | F: (732) 562-1399 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Greetings from the Metuchen Office of Vocations!
Sorry to any New York Giants fans out there, but at this point, it does not look like 2017 is going to be your year. However, back in early December 2011, the Giants’ season was looking rather bleak, too. At 6 wins and 6 losses, reporters, fans, and sports analysts predicted that their season was probably over. So, the team chaplain invited a local minister to speak to the players in order to offer them some spiritual insight and motivation. And during the talk, the minister used a term common to the game of poker. He said that in order to save their season, the Giants would have to go, “All in.” Each and every member of the team would have to lay all of their chips on the table in total trust, dedication, commitment, and steadfastness both within themselves and amongst their teammates. Some players even began to carry around a poker chip in their sock, with a particular word written on it, such as, “Teamwork,” or “Perseverance” as reminders to help them along their remaining practices and games. Soon after, “All in,” became the team slogan. The team rallied, made the playoffs, and their Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots certainly shows that they followed that slogan to the full.
Reflecting on this account through the lens of a spiritual light, isn’t the entire record of salvation history filled with men, women, and children who went, “All in” for God? Time after time after time, the Bible is filled with spiritual heroes, who trusted in the call that God had given to them in what seemed to be insurmountable odds. They went, “All in,” despite those odds, and they persevered with God leading the way. Moses doubted his speaking ability and talents, yet he went, “All in.” The prophets always seemed to lament God’s call when it was first given to them, yet they went, “All in.” Mary’s first reaction to the Angel Gabriel was one of fear. Yet, She trusted God’s messenger to, “Not be afraid” and She went, “All in,” in Her faith time after time and She is the Mother of us all. And above all, Our Lord Jesus Christ went, “All in,” for us….even to the Cross. And that trust led to the victory of victories for each and every one of us.
One of my favorite Biblical accounts of someone going, “All in,” for God is recounted in the Gospels of Mark (Mk. 12:41-44) and Luke (Lk. 21:1-4). In these accounts, we find Jesus in the Jerusalem Temple. And He points out a poor widow to His Apostles who gave everything she had, two small coins, into the Temple offering. Now, the Jerusalem Temple could hold thousands of people. Every day, one could listen to the shrieks of animal sacrifices, hear the preaching and teaching of the Pharisees, smell the incense constantly billowing, and be overwhelmed by the sound of the marketplace. And yet, with all of this going on, it was the humble witness of this poor, solitary widow that attracted that heart of Our Lord most…and her trustful actions have been spoken of, and will be passed down, until Jesus comes again. Our Lord’s Sacred Heart is moved for those who go, “All in” for Him.
And once again, Holy Mother Church calls us to focus our prayer in a particular way during this celebration of National Vocation Awareness Week. This week reminds all of us to reinvigorate our prayerful support and determination to inspire others to discern their call to the priesthood or to religious life, or to the diaconate, or to sacramental marriage, or to single, chaste celibacy. It calls each of us to personally reflect on how are we going, “All in” to support vocations, most especially to the priesthood and to religious life of which there is such great need in our Diocese of Metuchen.
Our Diocese of Metuchen, population-wise, is one of the largest dioceses in the entire nation with over 600,000 Catholics. We currently have 18 seminarians. We need more. And while our seminarian numbers have recently increased, we need many more men to go, “All in.” Vocations Awareness Week calls us to reflect and to ask ourselves, “How am I supporting vocations?” It challenges us, as a parent, as the most incredible and fundamental influence in the life of our children to ask, “What am I doing to help my child discern their vocation?” As a principal or teacher in one of our Catholic schools, “What am I actively doing in my weekly lesson plans to assist my students to prayerfully discern their vocation to sacramental marriage or to the priesthood or religious life?” As a priest, “What is my parish and what am I currently doing, as part of the daily life of the parish entrusted to me, to promote vocations to the priesthood or religious life?” Most certainly, we go “All in,” for Jesus in countless ways every single day. Vocations Awareness Week allows us to step back and reflect how we are going, “All in,” for something so vital for the life of the Church as vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
In addition, Vocations Awareness Week also calls us to strengthen our efforts to give thanks and to support the men and women from our diocese who are actively working on their formation in seminaries and religious houses and to encourage those who are actively discerning their call. Perhaps some of them may originate from your home parish or you are familiar with them from their fieldwork placements at your parish. They need your support. They need more to follow in their steps, perhaps your own children or your own grandchildren or maybe a student from your classroom or Religious Education class. Please remember those in priestly and religious formation and diaconal formation in your prayers. Our office thanks all of you for what you do to support vocations and may all of us pray that we may all go, “All in,” not only this week, but every day after.