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Posted March 27, 2004

Book: Revisiting the Idea of Vocation: Theological Explorations
Editor: John C. Haughey, S.J.
The Catholic University Press, Washington, DC, pp.247

An Excerpt from the Introduction:

This volume is a collection of ten essays composed by theologians from Loyola University Chicago, members either of its theology department’s graduate faculty or of the Institute of Pastoral Studies, with one happy exception, which I will mention shortly. The faculty members’ contributions have been determined by their own areas of expertise or academic interest. They have taken seriously and critically the idea of call in their respective essays, primarily to stimulate faculty in other disciplines to reflect on their understanding of themselves as called (if that is how they experience their work in academe) or of the relationship of their own field of study to the idea of call.

An Excerpt from the Book:

The more I looked at this idea of call, of being called, of having a call, the more obscurities began to develop in my mind. I decided to look at it under a different lens than has been previously used to understand it. That lens is the notion of conversion. Not conversion from no faith to faith or from one faith to another. The conversion I have in mind is threefold. It is a conversion, first, from the biases one brings to interpreting reality to accurately hearing the ever-unfolding call that reality itself emits. Following Bernard Lonergan, I will call this an intellectual conversion. The second conversion is to hearing the call to live meaningfully, as this is construed through the meaning-making communities of which one is a part. In a derived way, Bernard Lonergan would refer to this as a moral conversion. The third conversion is from living a good life to living a life that abides in love. With some further specification of my own, I will refer to this as affective conversion — again inspired by Lonergan. Some of the obscurity about personal calling, I believe, can be overcome by these three compenetrating conversions.

All three conversions produce a condition of ongoing self-transcendence: the first to reality, the second to a tradition of meaning, the third to love and to the unique way one is to express it, which I will term charism. As I hope to explain in more detail, the first, on-going call to which all human beings are invited is extended t them from no less a caller than reality itself. To hear it is to undergo a continual conversion our of a self-enclosed immanence. Intellectual conversion invites one to deepen one’s grasp of the way things are, while refraining from imposing on reality what we would like it to be. Moral conversion is a call to move away from self-satisfying, ignorant choices and self-interested perception of the good to authentic values and meaningful choices. Affective conversion calls one to live a life of love for God and neighbor in the particular way in which the individual is called to love. These three conversions fold into one another, each pushing the others for completion.

Table of Context:

John C. Haughey, S.J.
The three conversions embedded in personal calling

Camilla Burns
The call of creation

Edward Breuer
Vocation and call as individual and communal imperatives: some reflections on Judaism

Urban C. von Wahlde
“My food is to do the will of the one who sent me”: Jesus as model of vocation in the Gospel of John

Marcia Hermansen
Islamic concepts of vocation

Paul F. Harman, S.J.
Vocation and the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola

Mark A. McIntosh
Trying to follow a call: vocation and discernment in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress

D.H. Williams
Protestantism and the vocation of discernment of vocation

John P. Neafsey
Psychological dimensions of the discernment of vocation

Mary Elsbernd
Listening for a Life’s work: contemporary callings to ministry

After Words