Vocations are given, not manufactured

There are many uncertainties in life, but as the Church observed World Vocation Day on May 12, I want to remind everyone — especially young people — that you can be certain that God has a unique and loving plan for your life that only you can fulfill. Your task is to seek the Lord with all your heart, and if you do so, you can be sure he will reveal your vocation.

This is not a popular thing to believe, but it is true. Most young people today are taught that they are a blank slate that can be drawn upon however they wish. The tides of relativism have eroded belief in objective truth to the point that increasing numbers of people think that one’s gender, the nature of marriage, and ultimately what is right or wrong can be changed at will. When there is no reference to God, one makes oneself God.

This development could lead to people thinking that vocations are just like a career choice, but in fact, a vocation is a calling that God the Father places on one’s heart. As Pope Francis reminds us, it is a summons “to follow Jesus on the path he has marked out for us, for our own happiness and for the good of those around us” (Pope Francis’ 2019 World Day of Vocation Message). Jesus is the one who “marks out our path for our happiness.”

The Gospel message stands at the very heart of every vocation: God loves you. He died for you. And he has a plan for your happiness. Experiencing this in your life will bring you lasting joy and freedom.

But that’s not to say that following God’s plan for you won’t be challenging. Pope Francis draws on the story of Jesus calling the apostles away from their fishing to become “fishers of men” to describe how being called contains both promise and risk. “The Lord’s call,” he says, “is not an intrusion of God on our freedom … On the contrary, it is the loving initiative whereby God encounters us and invites us to be part of a great undertaking.  He opens before our eyes the horizon of a greater sea and an abundant catch.”

Whether one is called to the priesthood, religious life, consecrated life, or marriage, the great joy over souls brought to the Lord for healing and salvation is certainly abundant. Ask any priest and you will hear stories about the richness, the challenges and the joys of his ministry.

The Holy Father offers us a reflection on the risk and promise of our vocation by looking at Mary’s life. “Her mission was not easy, yet she did not allow fear to prevail. It was the ‘yes’ of someone prepared to be committed, someone willing to take a risk, ready to stake everything she had, with no more security than the certainty of knowing that she was the bearer of a promise.  I ask each one of you: Do you see yourselves as bearers of a promise?  What promise do I bear within my heart to take forward?  Mary’s would undoubtedly be a difficult mission, but the challenges that lay ahead were no reason to say ‘no.’”

May the Blessed Mother’s example inspire everyone to discern how the Father is calling you and may she intercede for you to receive the gifts of wisdom and courage so that you can follow her son, Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. He will bring you great happiness, even in the trials of life.

COMING UP: Team Samaritan cyclist goes ‘Everesting’ for the homeless and hungry

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When it comes to the daily sufferings of those who are homeless, there’s nothing like a 29,029-foot bike ride to keep things in perspective.

That’s exactly what Corbin Clement will be doing this Saturday, June 19, with a couple of his riding buddies as they attempt an “Everesting” ride to raise money for the Samaritan House homeless shelter in Denver. Starting at Witter Gulch Road in Evergreen, the three riders will climb Squaw Pass Road to a point in Clear Creek County and ride back down the hill for over eight laps, which amounts to roughly 190 miles in distance and the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing – hence the name “Everesting.” Their goal is to complete the feat in 20 hours or less.

Oh, and they can’t sleep. It is, indeed, just as crazy as it sounds. Those who aren’t avid cyclists might be wondering, “How in the world do you train for something like this?” 
 
“For training, it’s been just more or less ride as much as possible,” Clement told the Denver Catholic. “The training is structured around endurance, and that’s of course what Everesting is. It’s just a lot of peddling. So, a lot of my training so far has just been trying to ride as much as possible and ride longer high elevation rides.” 

In March, an Irish cyclist set the world record for Everesting when he completed the feat in six hours and 40 minutes. Clement isn’t trying to set a record, but regardless, it’s quite a feat to undertake, even for a seasoned athlete like him, whose pedigree includes snowboarding and rock climbing. 

“Our ride will be the same thing, but it’ll be pretty different,” Clement said. “We don’t have any sort of special bikes or super focused diet or a really regimented plan or a crew that’s very well-instructed on how we’re going to tackle this. I’ve read a couple of things to just kind of make it into a party — have friends come out to support you, get people to join you on certain laps…that’s kind of the approach we’re taking.” 

Clement has already raised $5,200 for Samaritan House, with a current goal of $8,000. This is Clement’s first year riding for Team Samaritan, but his dad, Kevin, has ridden for the team for several years. When his dad offered to give him an extra kit and uniform, Clement accepted, but didn’t want to take it without doing something help the cause. He could’ve simply opted for a nice ride in the countryside, but he chose to do something a bit more challenging.  

Corbin Clement used to experience the challenges that homeless people face on a daily basis when commuting through downtown Denver to work on his bike. This Saturday, he will raise money for Samaritan House homeless shelter by “Everesting,” a 190-mile bike ride that is the equivalent of the elevation of Mt. Everest in terms of vertical climbing. (Photo provided)

“For some reason, the Everesting idea popped into my head,” he explained. “I think it’s one of those things that has a little bit of shock value for people who hear about it. It’s certainly something that’s gained more popularity and visibility in the last couple of years with endurance athletes. I wanted to choose something that would actually be a challenge for myself and something that I’d have to work towards.” 

Clement currently resides in Utah, but he used to live in Denver and commute by bike to work every day. During those rides to his office, which was located near Samaritan House, he would pass many homeless people and have conversations with them. This experience was also a motivating factor for his Everesting attempt for Team Samaritan. 

“It’s very different when you’re on a bike versus in a car because you’re right there,” Clement said. “If you stop at a stoplight and a homeless person is on the corner, whether or not they’re panhandling or something like that, you hear the conversations, or you’ll have a conversation with them. There are things you smell or you hear or you see that you just never would if you were in a car. So, it kind of made sense, too, with the biking aspect. It’s part of my community that I’ve lived and worked in for a very long time.” 

Clement’s Everesting attempt is one event in a series of endurance event’s he’s doing over the summer that culminates with the Leadville 100, a single-day mountain bike race across the Colorado Rockies. In that race, he will be riding to support young adults diagnosed with cancer by raising funds for First Descents.  

Both causes are near to Clement’s heart, and he said that while his Everesting attempt will be a form of “suffering,” it pales in comparison to what the homeless face day in and day out. This is ultimately why he’s riding and raising funds for Team Samaritan. 

“Any time we see a homeless person or people who have to live on the streets,” Clement said, “That is true suffering — true endurance — with no end in sight.” 

To learn more about Corbin’s fundraising efforts or to donate, click here.