Mother Theresa and her “call within a call”

by | Apr 24, 2024 | Formation, Reflections | 1 comment

The phrase “call within a call” is frequently associated with Mother Theresa.

In 1946, during a train ride from Calcutta to Darjeeling, Mother Teresa received what she called, “the call within a call.” The Lord asked her to begin a new religious community that would live and work with the poorest of the poor.

People, myself included, assumed that “call within a call” means a vocation within her vocation to religious life. She was a Sister of Loretto, an Irish community known for their missionary work in India. That is certainly a legitimate understanding.

However, we also often implicitly limit the word “vocation” to the special consecration of religious or priestly vocation.

Pope Francis has challenged me to expand my understanding of a “vocation within a vocation!”

In 2022, he writes

On this World Day of Prayer for Vocations, I would like to reflect with you on the broader meaning of “vocation” within the context of a synodal Church, a Church that listens to God and to the world.

Called to Build the Human Family

Pope Francis’ understanding of vocation

He writes…

The word “vocation” should not be understood restrictively, as referring simply to those who follow the Lord through a life of special consecration.

All of us are called to share in Christ’s mission to reunite a fragmented humanity and to reconcile it with God.

Within this great common vocation, God addresses a particular call to each of us.

As Christians, we do not only receive a vocation individually; we are also called together. We are like the tiles of a mosaic. Each is lovely in itself, but only when they are put together do they form a picture. Each of us shines like a star in the heart of God and in the firmament of the universe.

In this broad sense, not only individuals have a “vocation”, but peoples, communities and groups of various kinds as well.

At every moment of our lives, we are called to foster this divine spark, present in the heart of every man and woman, and thus contribute to the growth of a humanity inspired by love and mutual acceptance.

He continues

Synodality, journeying together, is a vocation fundamental to the Church.

Only against this horizon is it possible to discern and esteem the various vocations, charisms and ministries.

We know that the Church exists to evangelize, to go forth and to sow the seed of the Gospel in history.

All the baptized, whatever their position in the Church or their level of instruction in the faith, are agents of evangelization” (Evangelii Gaudium, 120).

Why is this important?

Pope Francis warns…

We must beware of the mentality that would separate priests and laity, considering the former as protagonists and the latter as executors, and together carry forward the Christian mission as the one People of God, laity and pastors. The Church as a whole is an evangelizing community.

When we speak of “vocation”, then, it is not just about choosing this or that way of life, devoting one’s life to a certain ministry or being attracted by the charism of a religious family, movement or ecclesial community. It is about making God’s dream come true, the great vision of fraternity that Jesus cherished when he prayed to the Father “that they may all be one” (Jn 17:21).

Our primary vocation is to journey together and so “bring Good news!”

Echoes of the great St. Augustine

“I am fearful of what I am for you, but I draw strength from what I am with you. For you, I am a bishop, and with you, I am a Christian. The former designates an office received, the latter the foundation of salvation.”

Do we understand ourselves called as a community of “evangelizers”?

Originally posted on Vincentian Mindwalk


1 Comment

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.