The Heritage of the Coptic Orthodox Church

Callings

Alex A-Malek
June 12, 2005

This was originally written in response to a discussion on whether or not marriage, monasticism, priesthood, etc… were callings, or whether they were vocations chosen by individuals. It is worth noting that the word calling here is not being used in the sense commonly understood by the Roman Catholic Church. A calling in the context of this article is an active, direct, and obvious call from God: a Revelation.

A Classic Example of a Calling

From the life story of ‘St. Antony the Father of Monasticism by St. Athanasius’: “Antony, as though God has put him in mind of the Saints, and the passage had been read on his account , went out immediately from the church , and gave his possessions to the poor and fled to the desert”.

I feel that it is extremely vital and in the best interest of all of us to simply know what God wants from us, whether in macro or micro issues. It seems like an easy question, doesn’t it? We are the children of God, we praise Him all the time, we have personal time with Him in prayer/meditation, we read His word, and most importantly we partake in His Holy Body and Blood. However, we still cannot pinpoint what God wants from us in our lives. If we can’t, who can?

We are at a stage of our lives when we should and must be certain of what we are, who we serve and love, and what we will do in our lives to show Him that. There are even psychological viewpoints that suggest that between the stage of a youth and early adulthood, one should have their identity and goals to life shorted out. I see that this is a major flaw in our generation. We are never positive about anything. There are always questions and doubts lingering in our minds, sometimes to the point that when the answer is right in front of us, we still insist on our own misleading thoughts. It’s simply confusion in all its forms. This is the cause of peoples’ failure to submit to God: putting trust in themselves rather than God, their own Creator.

Is this not a good reason for our caring Lord to call us to the means of salvation? e.g. monasticism, marriage, martyrdom, priesthood, service etc… Is not everything on earth, meant to be a means to salvation? This can be taken to the extent that nothing has meaning outside the spiritual frame but rather in perspective with God. Basically, because of our cloudy, busy society, in addition to the powers of the adversary and our own tendencies and weakness of our nature, we forget God and rely on ourselves potentially losing our salvation. This is why God, sometimes rather faintly or in contrast, very loudly and clearly, calls us to the way to Salvation, for me, personally, in my, given situation. Look how lucky we are that we have a God with such patience to do so. My friends, this is true LOVE in it’s purest and fullest form.

What is a Calling?

“Callings” are defined as: “An invasion, summons. A spiritual or divine summons to a special service or office.”

In light of this, we are called by God to a certain ‘means to Salvation’. We are not ordered or forced in any way to comply. We all have free will, and with this we decide to go along with God’s suggested plan for us or not. However, we must remember that this is sometimes difficult to do because:

1) We rely, trust, love and serve God. How could we go against His Will?

2) The signs (in whatever form or intensity) are clear and difficult to ignore. We can take as an example our father Moses on Mount Sinai with the burning bush. I see this as a calling for a specific man (Moses) and what he is to do in his life (be a Prophet of God, deliver God’s people). Do you think Moses could have neglected such a miraculous sight (calling) such as, the Fiery Bush? I don’t think any of us in our right mind would do so either. Do you think Moses would have chosen to be a Prophet or deliverer of God’s people from Egypt without this calling?

Yes, we have the free-will, but as said, we would never neglect such a calling. Callings definitely exist, however, it is up to us to comply or refuse. Well, it’s the same with us in our own lives. Let’s not forget St. Paul and the multitude of time that he spent on this very issue in his epistle to the Romans.

See, God only wants to see us win our salvation, which was made free for us through the love of Christ . He sees beyond our vision, and therefore knows what the paths are that may destroy us, and cause us to lose our salvation. Likewise, He knows the paths that may lead us to the Kingdom of Heaven.

He only tries to direct our path, like a father who directs the first steps of his newly born child. Marriage, monasticism, etc., are only the first baby steps in grasping our salvation.

Please always remember that:

A man’s mind directs his way, but the Lord directs his steps (Proverbs 16:9) May the Lord and God of salvation lead us all through the way to eternal peace.

AMEN.