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October 2021
In the year or so before I entered the community of SSJD I got into a routine of visiting the convent for a few days every month or so. It seemed to me that every time I visited we sang ‘How Clear Is Our Vocation, Lord’, a Common Praise hymn written by the prolific English hymnwriter Fred Pratt Green. After a while I began to feel positively persecuted by this hymn and its seemingly breezy approach to discerning a vocation. As I was discerning a vocation to the religious life at the time the idea that a vocation could ever be clear frustrated me enormously.

Looking back, I can see that I had fallen into a trap. Without realizing it I thought of vocation as something outside of my life. I was focused on capital ‘V’ vocation while completely ignoring the many daily opportunities to follow Jesus. I was living in a world where a Vocation was something only very special people had while the rest of us could just get on with our daily lives. I was also misreading the hymn – the line which frustrated me actually reads ‘How clear is our vocation, Lord, when once we heed your call; to live according to your word…’

This past September, as we do every September, we observed the Feast of St. Matthew. Matthew, like Simon Peter and Andrew, James and John, has a dramatic call story. Matthew, once Jesus calls him from his tax collector’s booth, simply responds, “And he got up and followed him.” The gospels of Matthew and Mark merely have that flat statement while Luke adds the detail “he left everything”. This year, for the first time I noticed that immediately after Matthew is described as following Jesus he holds a big dinner party for Jesus at his house. Luke, once again supplying the colourful detail, describes it as ‘a great banquet’. This detail situates Matthew’s call within his existing life. We know from the Gospels that Matthew was one of the Twelve and that he is often described as ‘the tax collector.’ I had just always assumed that once Jesus called him he never worked as a tax collector again but do we actually know that? Is it possible that Matthew combined his work as a tax collector (presumably an honest one) with following Jesus?

I remember Sr. Connie once using a set of Russian nesting dolls to talk about vocation. The smallest, most innermost doll represented the baptized Christian and, as baptized Christians, we are called to live out our baptismal vows, or if you prefer Fred Pratt Green’s language, "to live according to your word.” The progressively larger dolls represented all of the other vocations, or roles, a person might have during the course of a life; child, parent, student, teacher, gardener, poet, volunteer, bus driver and so on. Our vocation as baptized Christians exists within all of the other roles. The answer for all of us to the question, ‘do I have a vocation?’ is yes, yes, a thousand times yes!

So, did I ever reconcile myself to singing ‘How Clear Is Our Vocation, Lord’? On September 8, 2020 when I was first professed it was one of the hymns I chose to sing at my first profession service. It seemed appropriate, and it made me smile.
~~  Sr. Wendy Grace Greyling, SSJD
Fall 2021 Retreats
The Guest House and Convent remain closed, but most of our in-house retreats are now on-line. We hope to see you there.
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Last Chance to register for Kathleen Norris retreat! Don't delay - dead line is October 3rd!
A New Look at Formation
Tuesday, October 5 - Thursday, October 7, 2021
Led by Kathleen Norris

Genuine spirituality is not an individual pursuit but must be anchored in one's local community. This means a constant struggle between freedom and obedience, listening and asserting oneself...

Entertaining Angels Unawares
Friday, November 5 - Sunday, November 7, 2021
Led by Rev. Frances Drolet-Smith

The world turns on how we perceive one another. We can point to people, famous or not, who have made a difference in our lives. Sometimes though, it is those who we would least expect, the ones who by their otherness become blessings...

Silent Virtually-Directed In-Home Retreat
Friday, November 26 - Sunday, November 28, 2021
Led by Barbara Sheppard
"Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest awhile." After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray. (Mark 6:31, 46)
After many months of social distancing, people might wonder what they could receive from engaging in an in-home silent retreat...

Advent Quiet Day
Saturday, December 4, 2021
Led by Bishop Peter Fenty
In Advent we prepare for and anticipate the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. During our Quiet Day we will take time to reflect on the gifts from God that are freely and graciously offered to us. They are Hope, Peace, Love and Joy that we wish to experience in our daily living...