By Mark Haney
The Catholic Times
FLINT — Middle school students from the Diocese of Lansing were being called Saturday, March 10, during the annual Middle School Rally at Fr. Luke M. Powers High School.
No matter who spoke to them — keynote speaker Chris Padgett, Fr. John Linden, diocesan director of seminarians, and vocations coordinator Dawn Hausman or Bishop Earl Boyea — there was talk of being called.
“Jesus picks you,” said Padgett, a Detroit native who now calls Ohio home. “You are not an accident. You are here intentionally. You were made specifically. God wants to do something in your life.”
That means, he said, being willing to be yourself, to be unique.
“If you spend time trying to be like your friends, trying to live up to the standards of what we think is cool or not cool, you’re going to have a hard time,” he said. “You can go out of here the same way that you came in, not any different. Or you can leave here knowing God picked you, prepared you and protects you. He wants to be in a relationship with you. And after all of His gifts, all of His generosity, He’s waiting for you to respond.”
Before he left the stage, the speaker challenged the young people: “What about you? What will you do? How will God work in your life?
“Ten years from now you won’t be worried about being cool. But 10 years from now, if you say yes, I will listen to you God, you will be the saint we need most in the Diocese of Lansing.
“Don’t tell me you’re too young because you are just the right age to say yes to Jesus. You’re just the right age to be the saint you are supposed to be. You are just the right age to believe you are picked, being prepared and protected. You are just the right age. Don’t tell me you’re not. So what are you going to do? Are you going to listen to Him or not?”
Listening to God. Fr. Linden said, means being open to a vocation. And while making that choices might seem frightening, it brings the opposite.
“You will find there is so much less to fear once you find your vocation,” he said. “Now that I am a priest, there is nothing else I would want to do.”
At this time, he told them, there all kinds of options — priesthood, married life, religious life, consecrated life. “All of these callings the Lord has for each and every one of you. But to answer that one call, you have to start taking away some options. And that’s a scary thing because we are a people of freedom, right? We think to be really free I have to have every option. But when I start thinking of a vocation, I have to start thinking about taking many of those options off the table. You know what? That is freeing. I am free because I no longer have to worry about what He’s calling me to.”
When you find what God has planned for you, he added, you will be happier.
Bishop Boyea, meanwhile, called the young people to do whatever they do in God’s name with zeal.
“What does zeal mean? Zeal points to a person’s enthusiasm, a person’s passion. Their intensity about something. You, my younger brothers and sisters, are full of passion and intensity and enthusiasm. You, too, can be at times full of zeal. Otherwise you wouldn’t be here today.”
When he was in high school and college, he said, “I could really get worked up about things. Now that I am older I don’t get worked up about anything.”
At times, however, he said, his zeal for different causes got him into some arguments. Because of that zeal, he never was wrong. Zeal, he added, needs to used for God’s good.
“It was zeal for His father’s house that consumed Jesus,” the bishop said. “It was all about God’s will. This is probably one of the toughest of lessons any of us can learn. It is tough because it can be difficult at times to know what God’s will is. Especially if we are a bit stubborn, if we have all of the answers.
“Our lives are meant to be lives of love, of generosity, of giving ourselves to God and to others. All of that passion, all of that zeal somehow has to serve the love of God and others. It is not, ultimately, about me. That’s the tough part. It is about love of God and love of neighbor. If it doesn’t serve love, then it is misdirected.
“Celebrate your passion. Celebrate your zeal. Over these years, as you mature, learn to bend all of that wonderful intensity to the will of God. Keep in mind, every day that you bend your will toward the will of God will bring you one day closer to embracing the cross of Jesus Christ.”