Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Saint Martin de Porres, the Saints and Vocations....


November 3rd is the feast day of our Dominican brother, Saint Martin de Porres. There is no doubting that Saint Martin is a saint for all ages and his life and work continue to inspire many people. As I have often noted elsewhere on this blog, I owe my Dominican vocation in no small part to the influence of Saint Martin de Porres, and I try with every opportunity to introduce him to others - and particularly those interested in vocation to the Dominican form of life.

It is no wonder that Saint Martin resonates with twenty-first century Catholics concerned with issues of justice, racial prejudice, the continuing divide between the rich and the poor and commitment to those at the margins of society. Martin with his commitment to all these issues and more is an ideal figure for a secular world. It becomes clear why he is beloved of so many, and why he has inspired many to follow him in the Dominican way.

It brings home the point that Saint Martin de Porres and indeed all those saints who lived vowed religious lives - if they are to make a difference, then there has to be some other unique aspect of their lives, some sign of grace, that makes a difference. While many would look at and focus on Saint Martin's commitment to the poor and deprived as the be all and end all, the fact remains that it was his life grounded in spirituality with the particular emphasis on community, sacrifice and the suffering love of Christ that marks him out as very different.

Today, many religious, particularly women's apostolic congregations that have worked long and hard in the areas of education and social service are suffering from fewer vocations and dwindling numbers. If one can serve the poor as a social worker, why become a brother, nun or priest? It is the distinctiveness of the religious vocation - that piece that marks it as different from the secular notion of career - that has become highly obscured. As Saint Martin, and many of the other saints remind us, it is the imitation of Christ, the following of Jesus in the service of the poor that makes the life of Martin both luminous and inspirational.

Saint Martin de Porres, pray for us.
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