God has given everyone who comes into this world a vocation and called them to a certain state of life; given them faculties, dispositions and graces to fulfill the special duties of their station and of securing salvation in this station with the greatest security and the least amount of difficulty. Although all stations in life may be good in themselves, not all are equally as good irrespective of the person. One station in life may have greater difficulties and be more dangerous than another, yet is one is called by God to this station, it will be to us the least dangerous and the most secure. The safest way of salvation for each of us is the way in which God calls us.
When will we learn that the place of our sanctification and the means of our sanctification are found in our station in life; in the fulfilling of those duties which God has attached to it. It is a common error to imagine that one could serve God better and sanctify one’s soul with less difficulty in some other station in life different from the one in which God has placed us. It is not by imitating the action of others but by faithfulness to God’s grace and the inspirations of His Spirit in the circumstances of where God places us that one can attain sanctity.
Our means of sanctification is to be found in the faithful performance of all those duties immediately around us and this is true of all the states of life, whether we are monks or nuns, popes, priests or laymen, lawyers or statesmen, mechanics or laborers, kings or beggars. If we cannot make our sanctity out of them and in this moment, we might as well give up on the idea of becoming a true and faithful Christians.
There is an old saying that says, “grow where you are planted.” This is the message of Servant of God Father Isaac Hecker this week. God has given each of us a vocation and together with this work, God has provided the resources, talent and ability for us to be able to do this work. The inverse is also true. If we don’t have the talent or ability, perhaps we are in the wrong vocation. Hecker describes a vocation as being dangerous and filled with difficulties. He is not clear about what he means by “dangerous” but my guess is that he means spiritually dangerous; something that can cause us to drift away from God in our pursuit of other things. Father Hecker starts with the premise that the safest way to heaven is to deal with where we are and what is happening to us right now.
Hecker says that sanctity comes from dealing with the responsibilities, people and moments that arise in our present. Don’t spend your time wishing you were in a different station in life; something we probably all have done at some point. And it is not through the imitation of others that we should respond. Sanctity is found in being attentive to the promptings and inspiration of the Holy Spirit who has brought us to this particular time and space. Father Hecker had a deep appreciation of the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Where we are at present has to do with the Providence of God and our ability to respond to the challenges of our vocation and be faithful about it comes from our attentiveness to the Holy Spirit within.
Paulist Father Paul Robichaud CSP is Historian of the Paulist Fathers and Postulator of the Cause of Father Hecker. His office is located at the Hecker Center in Washington D.C.