Living a Radical Lifestyle

Brother David Henley Glenmary Vocation DirectorJanuary 2011

Some of the Sunday Mass readings this month raise a question that goes straight to our hearts: "Am I being called?" In the opening of St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians, he writes that his calling comes from God: "Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God..." (1 Cor 1:1)

Also in First Corinthians, Paul asks his readers to reflect on their own calls and reminds us that God does not call those who are "wise" and "powerful" "by human standards," but that "God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong..." (1 Cor 1:26-27) The Gospel of Matthew relates the story of the first disciples called by Jesus: "He saw two brothers, Simon and Andrew.... He said to them, ‘Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.'" (Mt 4:18-19)

Reflecting on the question above, the answer—like the answers of Paul and the disciples—is simple: "Yes, I am being called." And reflecting a little more, our discernment leads us to the question, "Where am I being called?" That, too, has a simple answer: "I am being called to follow Jesus."

The challenges come with the next question: "How am I called to serve?" For some individuals the answer is: "I am called to live a radical lifestyle that is contrary to the culture in which we live and what our society teaches us." In a world that promotes violence, individualism, war, technology, materialism, sex, power and money, the call to religious life has to be the opposite—for this life encompasses the values of peace, love, community, tradition, chastity, obedience, poverty and prayer.

Too challenging? Is there another answer? This is the radical life that Jesus lived and preached and that Glenmarians and others strive to follow. Those who enter religious communities find fellow members who believe in the Gospel values, allowing all of them to grow in their faith and testify to the world that there is another way.

The question "How?" may also lead to the answer: "I am called to be part of a community of priests and brothers dedicated to sharing the Good News and serving in the missions in rural America." Glenmary priests and brothers make up a community of men who share in their call to be missioners and strive to live that radical lifestyle, contrary to values being promoted by our society but true to the Gospel values taught to us by Jesus. The Glenmary Constitution states that we are a community who are committed " bring the Gospel message to all whom we serve and with whom we join ourselves in Christian love."

Most of us realize from our personal experiences that "Our need for prayer is as fundamental as our need for God." (Glenmary Constitution) Therefore, as we reflect on our call we must pray, "For without prayer, faith soon dries up and dies." (Glenmary Constitution) As we pray and reflect on "how" we are called, the Holy Spirit will lead us to deeper answers to the question "Am I being called?"

I recommend that you find the time to reread and pray with the Sunday Scriptures mentioned above. Since our Catholic faith is a faith of community, I also recommend you find someone who can help you ask the right questions, guide you spiritually, and share in your journey as you discern "how" God is calling you.

Finally, you can also just take the radical step of visiting a Glenmary mission to see if God might be calling you to respond by serving as a missioner. Please contact our vocation office if you would like to schedule a Glenmary mission tour.