Posted July 28, 2006 in My Dear Family:
When God Calls

by Catherine Doherty.

God’s call doesn’t only come once when he calls us to our vocation. No, it comes over and over. Does anyone describe it with more fire than Catherine Doherty?

There is a moment when God calls you. It is as if he sends a note, as on a tuning fork, and it reverberates in your heart.

It might sound in the midst of a busy street, or in the depths of solitude, or on a train or airplane, or on a crowded city bus. But you hear it—unmistakably.

"Now!" it says. "Now! Arise! Go! Go to this place or that. Go speak to this person or that one. Go write this book or article. Arise and be reconciled with your neighbor. Arise and take the step for which I have been preparing you."

At this point, you hold on to your chair, symbolically speaking. The last thing you want to do is arise and go, because when God calls, he purifies through suffering the one he chooses.

If you follow him, you may be spit upon or have stones thrown at you—figuratively or literally. You may be called names, as I was when I tried to talk about racial justice in the Deep South during the 1940s.

But when you hear God’s call, it is more agonizing to sit still than to obey. Such was the experience of Jonah, of Jeremiah, and of many other prophets.

When you hear God’s call, whatever it is, there will be tremendous turmoil in you. You will feel as if you are being ripped apart.

This is the beginning of your journey inward, the moment of realization that the Holy Spirit dwells within you, as well as outside of you.

The moment when you hear God’s call is a moment of recognition, a moment of receptivity, and of deep openness. It is the moment when all we have to do is realize that we are creatures, and that it is God who is calling us.

What is he calling us to? He is calling us to what each of us most deeply desires. He is calling us to a life that will bear fruit, for sterility is the most tragic thing that can happen to us. Remember the parable of the fig tree?

God offers us fertility. He offers us a life of unimaginable fruitfulness, because he offers us the possibility of helping him build his kingdom.

What is that kingdom? It is you and me, and the girl who takes drugs, and the alcoholic down the street. His kingdom is the lame and the blind, the lonely, and the jobless, the rich and the poor. It includes all human races. It is the whole world.

The moment when you hear God’s call is also the moment of prayer. Not of long prayers, not of prayer as you or I might understand it, but something else, something so very simple: "Lord, I believe; help my unbelief." "Jesus, help me."

He is used to that prayer, and often it is not even voiced aloud. It’s a cry of a few words, a cry of agony, a cry for help, a wordless cry for clarity.

Behind these short cries, accented with pain or sorrow, or even with joy, lies the plea, "Help me to move on, to wherever you want to take me."

For the moment God calls is also the moment of choice. It is one of many such moments, for we will be called to choose every day of our lives until we die.

But the fantastic thing about it is our freedom. We are utterly free to turn back from this power that draws us on. We are free to loose ourselves from the bonds of a love that demands our total surrender. Nothing prevents us from saying no—nothing except God’s love.

We crave greatness for our lives, and God asks us to become little. To pass through the door that leads to his kingdom, we must go down on our knees.

Paradoxically, if we do so, we will find ourselves growing in stature, for eye has not seen and ear has not heard what God has reserved for those who love him (1 Cor 2:9).

Adapted from Soul of My Soul, pp. 50–52, now available in a new edition from MH Publications.


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