“Michelangelo Buonarroti is said to have maintained that every block of stone contains a statue within it, and it is up to the sculptor to uncover it,” he wrote.
“If that is true of an artist, how much more is it true of God! In the young woman of Nazareth, he saw the Mother of God. In Simon the fisherman, he saw Peter, the rock on which he would build his Church.”
“In the publican Levi, he recognized the apostle and evangelist Matthew, and in Saul, a harsh persecutor of Christians, he saw Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles.”
“God’s loving gaze always meets us, touches us, sets us free, and transforms us, making us into new persons. That is what happens in every vocation: we are met by the gaze of God, who calls us.”
Pope Francis encouraged Catholics to welcome God’s gaze and enter into a “vocational dialogue” with the Lord and others. He said that this dialogue “makes us become ever more who we are.”
“In the vocation to the ordained priesthood, to be instruments of Christ’s grace and mercy,” he wrote. “In the vocation to the consecrated life, to be the praise of God and the prophecy of a new humanity. In the vocation to marriage, to be mutual gift and givers and teachers of life. In every ecclesial vocation and ministry that calls us to see others and the world through God’s eyes, to serve goodness and to spread love with our works and words.”
The pope highlighted the example of José Gregorio Hernández Cisneros, a medical doctor who died in 1919.
“While working as a physician in Caracas, Venezuela, he wanted to become a Third Order Franciscan. Later, he thought of becoming a monk and a priest, but his health did not allow it,” the pope noted.
“He came to understand that his calling was the medical profession, in which he spent himself above all in service to the poor. He devoted himself unreservedly to those who had contracted the worldwide epidemic known as the ‘Spanish flu.’”
“He died, hit by a car, as he was leaving a pharmacy after purchasing medicine for one of his elderly patients. An exemplary witness of what it means to accept the call of the Lord and embrace it fully, he was beatified a year ago.”
The Synod on Synodality is a global, two-year consultative process of “listening and dialogue” that began in October 2021. The first stage is a diocesan phase expected to last until Aug. 15.
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The Vatican has asked all dioceses to participate, hold consultations, and collect feedback on specific questions laid out in synod documents.
At the end of the current process, an assembly of the Synod of Bishops is scheduled to take place in Rome in October 2023 to produce a final document to advise the pope.