“God calls all of us not just to renew the face of the earth with his Spirit, but to renew the heart of the Church with our lives; to make her young and beautiful again and again, so that she shines with his love for the world. That’s our task. That’s our calling. That’s what a vocation is – a calling from God with our name on it.”
There is also much darkness in the world that comes from outside the Church, Chaput noted.
“American life today is troubled by three great questions: What is love? What is truth? And who is Jesus Christ?” he said. “The secular world has answers to each of those great questions. And they’re false.”
The world defines love solely with emotions and sexual compatibility, while it defines truth as something that can only be observed through objective, measurable data, he said. The world also says Jesus Christ was a good man in a long line of good teachers, but is ultimately just a nice superstitious belief rather than a real person who is the Son of God and Savior of the world.
“The key thing about all these secular answers is this: They’re not only false, but dangerous. They reduce our human spirit to our appetites. They lower the human imagination and the search for meaning to what we can consume. And because the human heart hungers for a meaning that secular culture can’t provide, we anesthetize that hunger with noise and drugs and sex and distractions. But the hunger always comes back,” he said.
The secular world offers easy answers, he noted, but it does not offer satisfying answers to some of the most deeply human questions one could ask: “Why am I here, what does my life mean, why do the people I love grow old and die, and will I ever see them again? The secular world has no satisfying answer to any of these questions. Nor does it even want us to ask such questions because of its self-imposed blindness; it cannot tolerate a higher order than itself -- to do so would obligate it to behave in ways it does not want to behave. And so it hates, as Cain did, those who seek to live otherwise.”
The answer to all of these questions, Chaput said, is not some theory or equation but the person of Jesus Christ.
“He’s the only reliable guide for our journey through the world. Christians follow him as the Apostles did because in him and in his example, God speaks directly to us and leads us on the way home to his kingdom. To put it another way, Jesus is not only the embodiment of God, but also the embodiment of who we are meant to be.”
And Jesus’ message is that each life is “unrepeatable and precious [and has] a meaning and a purpose that God intends only for you. Only for you,” he said.
For many people, this will mean living out the vocation of marriage, and witnessing to Christ among family, friends and places of work, “and you’ll make your mark on the world with an everyday witness of Christian life,” he said.
“Marriage and family are profoundly good things,” he added, and laypeople are called not just to be “helpers” of holier clergy, but to share an equal responsibility in furthering the mission of the Church.
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“Remember that as you consider your future,” he said.
God also calls some to be radical witnesses of holiness in the priesthood or consecrated religious life, he said.
“Religious are a living witness to radical conversion and radical love; a constant proof that the Beatitudes are more than just beautiful ideals, but rather the path to a new and better kind of life,” he said.
“And priests have the privilege of holding the God of creation in their hands. Without priests, there is no Eucharist. Without the Eucharist, there is no Church. And without the Church as a living and organized community, there is no presence of Jesus Christ in the world.”
The keys to finding one’s vocation and purpose in life are silence and prayer, which make room for God’s voice, he said.
“Making time for silence and prayer should be the main Lenten practice for all of us – but especially for anyone seeking God’s will for his or her own life.”