This section includes a chapter on “parish” ministry, which includes opportunities as widespread as worship director to parish council member. While the authors emphasize that training for these and other ministries might be required, they do not note that some of these (e.g., worship director, operations director, youth minister) can be — and should be — paid positions. A chapter on “lay” ministry includes a list of organizations, e.g., Jesuit Volunteer Corps, National Catholic Educational Association, to which people can commit their time and talent.
The second half of “Living the Call” offers guidance for those discerning their vocation. It is comprised of chapters that offer retreat-type reflections. One chapter provides quotations from Fr. Thomas Merton, Thomas a Kempis and St. Therese of Lisieux. Readers are told, “The idea is to read each of them. Pause. Read again. Let them soak in. That is how spiritual reading is best done.”
Recognizing the number of married people who might be discerning how to answer a vocational call, in addition to sacramental marriage, the authors devote one of their longer chapters to marriage and the single life, using those pages as an opportunity to expound on the theology of marriage: “Marriage is a great teacher of self-purification, of other-centeredness, of delicacy of perception, and especially of attentiveness to those easily missed little signals that light our path toward the real. Marriage is a great purifier of the soul.”
Novak and Simon have provided a good overview for the layperson “just wondering” about doing more with his or her baptismal commitment, about living it on a deeper level. While not everyone who seeks that deeper level will be starting at the same place, this book provides enough basics for those just starting this process. Once they have begun, the prayer, sacraments and reading the authors recommend, along with the guidance of a qualified spiritual director, will take them the rest of the way.
Olszewski’s “lay vocation” began more than 36 years ago. He is general manager of the Catholic Herald, publication of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.