Our spiritual journey
Sister Ruth Bolarte

For the past year, we have been celebrating the year of St. Paul throughout our Archdiocese. Pope Benedict XVI has announced a Year of the Priest beginning June 19. Our Archdiocese is already organizing some resources to celebrate the vocation to the priesthood. Through those celebrations, we are invited to reflect on the vocation to the ordained priesthood, to rejoice and give praise to Jesus whose one and inspanisible priesthood is transmitted to His Church, and to cherish our vocations as disciples of Jesus spreading the Good News to all.

All of us are called to a life of holiness and discipleship. We are beloved sons and daughters of God who are wonderfully made (Psalm 139) and who find our identity only in God. Very often we may be confronted with circumstances that may change our present state of life; however, at all times our spanine call to the spanine life remains.

A vocation is a call to commitment and ministry with God’s people. Discerning our personal vocation is an exciting experience in which we work together with God within the faith community. As our lives unfold and we recognize our God-given gifts, we can discern how God is calling us through a particular pathway to blossom into the person we are meant to be and bear abundant fruit.

Some years ago, I was told a story about a fig tree that was trying desperately to be a mango tree because mangos are bigger and sweeter than figs. The fig tree worked very hard at trying to change itself into a mango tree. When the fruit season came, its fruits were figs and not mangos – they were small and tasteless figs. Only when the fig tree stopped trying to be something else and rejoiced in being a fig tree did it find its happiness and was able to produce the most delicious figs for the joy of so many.

Thomas Merton says that “A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying Him….” Living my vocation means discovering my true identity and glorifying God through the person God has created me to be. Some of us give praise to God through the ordained priesthood, others through the vowed religious life and others through their lay vocations as married or single people. All of us in our distinctive vocation share in the Church’s mission of announcing the reign of God and transforming the world in Christ.

As we find out who we are and gradually put aside the masks that veil our true identity, we discover also the unique call God has for us. When in obedience we respond, our lives glorify God because “The glory of God is the person fully alive” (St. Ireneaus).

Sister Ruth Bolarte, I.H.M., is the director of the Catholic Institute for Evangelization in Philadelphia.