Unrepeatable Book: Rediscovering the Full Meaning of Vocation

My friend Luke Burgis and his co-author Joshua Miller just published a new book, Unrepeatable: Cultivating the Unique Calling of Every Person.

Unrepeatable seeks to rediscover the full meaning of the term “vocation” within the Catholic Church (and the world at large).

Vocation in the Narrow Senses

“Vocation” has come to mean different things to different people.

Some use vocation as in “vocational school” which are typically more blue-collar jobs like plumber, electrician, automotive technician.

In the Catholic Church the word is primarily used in the context of a young person discerning whether God is calling them to the priesthood or religious life. More broadly, marriage and priesthood/religious life are considered the two “vocations” that one can be called to, so this limits vocation to indicate one of two states in life.

Vocation in the Full Sense

Luke and Joshua point out that these narrow usages of “vocation” do not fully encompass the meaning that it has traditionally had in the Catholic Church.

A person is more than his state in life, more than his occupation. God calls the entire person, as Pope St. John Paul II so vividly and consistently demonstrated to us. Hence, vocation needs to be expanded to mean one’s total calling from God, which is unique to each person and therefore takes diverse and amazing forms.

Mentors, Discernment, and Vocation

The authors devote specific counsel to those in mentorship positions, whether formal or informal.

They give good advice for how one can help a mentee discern his calling from God, which could include the priesthood, religious life, or marriage, but also would delve deeply into that person’s motivations, strengths, interests, and how they could be best applied for the full expression of that person’s being in the world.

I found the chapter on listening with empathy and drawing out a mentee’s Achievement Story helpful and thought of ways I could apply it at my secular workplace, including when mentoring junior engineers but also in interviewing candidates for positions.

A Culture of Vocation

The book reaches its climax in a chapter that explores what it means to build a “culture of vocation,” which requires direct, personal contact with people, not just virtual online interactions.

Luke draws from the Church’s Magisterial teachings, writings of the popes and saints, and contemporary examples of people engaging in such a culture to paint a picture of what such a culture looks like and demands. I was especially glad to his reference to John Senior’s program in Kansas decades ago, one that ultimately led to the Benedictine monks of Clear Creek, Oklahoma, an order we as a family have followed for a long time and visited in person recently.

Luke himself “discerned a vocation” to the priesthood but ultimately believed he was called to a different life, one which included entrepreneurship in it. Entrepreneurship is not something a Catholic ever associates with “vocation” but in fact God gave Luke gifts in this area, and he realized he needed to cultivate it and grow it to be faithful to God’s movement in his life.

Unrepeatable is a needed and practical book for Catholics in our time. Few Catholic books exist that have practical application in the business world as well as the ecclesial one. I look forward to more resources produced by these guys!

A fresh and comprehensive case for Catholicism

Half a millennium of contention and division

October 31st 2017 marked the 500th anniversary of the beginning of a period in the history of Christianity commonly known as the Protestant Reformation. According to the traditional accounts, Martin Luther drafted and nailed a set of 95 theses or propositions for theological debate to the door of a church in Wittenberg, Germany.

Even if Luther didn’t actually nail his 95 theses to a church door, it is an undisputed fact that he lies at the epicenter of a chain of events that radically transformed the face of Christendom back in the 16th century. His influence is enormous and practically impossible to dispense with. As a result, the division between Catholics and Protestants have been with us ever since.

An up-to-date defense of the Catholic Faith

Trent Horn, staff apologist with Catholic Answers, recently released his first book with Ignatius Press titled “The case for Catholicism: Answers to classic and contemporary Protestant objections

Trent has accomplished a remarkable feat in this book by doing two things. First, over the course of 16 chapters that can be read fairly quickly he has touched on all the major points of division between Catholics and Protestants; from the issue of ecclesial authority to the burning question of how people are saved.

Trent’s points and arguments can be easily understood even if you’re not particularly well-read in the field of Catholic apologetics. For example, this quotation from chapter 1 “Sola Scriptura”

“Given that Protestants hold contradictory positions on mutually exclusive issues (such as whether baptism takes away sin), this shows that many who defend sola scriptura do not understand what they are reading” (emphasis in original) 

Second, as Trent indicates in the preface of the book, he has incorporated many findings of Protestant scholarship that support arguments made in favor of Catholicism. The strength of this feature of the book should not be underestimated. It means that the evidence Trent has marshaled cannot be dismissed due to a perceived bias. It demands to be wrestled with.

The narrow gate of adherence to the truth

The path to the full and visible reunification of all Christians lies in the heartfelt commitment to dialogue between the disagreeing parties. As more and more Christians become aware of the scandal that their division brings and the damage it inflicts on the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it is my hope that Trent Horn’s work, and similar ones, will help the ecumenical initiative bear much fruit for the greater glory of God.