A Call Within A Call
By Kathleen Carsten, OFS
“I have called you by your name.
‘You are mine because you are precious in my eyes,
you are honored and I love you’.”
Isaiah 43: 1b, 4
Just maybe, you are already professed, maybe for decades, but then again, maybe for just a year. Perhaps you are seemingly satisfied in your call as a Secular Franciscan, yet maybe your spirit is a little restless. Is it possible that God’s voice has gone absent—or, thankfully, is the Holy Spirit quietly, gently, yet persistently nudging you to consider to go deeper? Perhaps the inspiration came at a fraternity gathering, or maybe reading an article in the Tau magazine, or something a person said to you. Perhaps you really can’t describe to others the “bump”, the “knowing”, or the Grace that the Holy Spirit is giving you, or once again calling you.
I was professed in August of 2015—just the beginnings of my life as an official Franciscan (but between you and me, it started a long, long time ago). There was and still is so much for me to learn about our Franciscan Charism! It wasn’t long after my profession that I was asked if I would consider the position as Formation Minister for my fraternity. I said, “yes.” The fraternity voted, and I was in! I was a bit overwhelmed, but I fortunately had, and still do, two great mentors on the formation team.
There is nothing, for me, like teaching, especially in my new life as a Franciscan to enrich my knowledge about Francis, Clare, and our professed life; and that’s exactly what is happening for me as Formation Minister. I love it! But something happened along the way. I attended a Regional gathering and in that time, there came a presentation followed by an invitation.
It wasn’t an invitation written to me with my name on it; nobody came to me personally and said, “this is for you.” Oh no, this was different. You see, our Region needs Spiritual Assistants, and there was a presentation depicting the importance of Spiritual Assistants and their life in the Franciscan movement. Up to this moment, I thought that this was a role only for the First Order and TOR. I thought wrong. I was delighted with possibility; however, six months went by.
October was here in no time, and we came together for the Regional Formation gathering. What a great occasion to see my Franciscan brothers and sisters. We have opportunity to build relationships and Franciscan understanding, but also learn what is needed in the Order. Once again, I heard the need for Spiritual Assistants in our Region. I received the silent yet stirring invitation to submit my name to the roster of interested Franciscans.
I submitted my application for the Spiritual Assistant program. I was accepted and given the study/reading assignments and timetable of our meetings. March 2017 came, and we met in Saginaw for a weekend for what I will say would be the next most moving venture for me as a Franciscan.
As we shared our reasons for being present, I had to tell my brothers and sisters that I love my work as a Formation Minister. However, I knew that I would and I wanted to learn so much more about our Franciscan charism; yet, there was a deeper purpose for my presence. I fell in love with my brothers and sisters who were present. Do you know what I mean when I say there was a connection between all of us? We shared our experiences, even when difficult and we asked lots of questions. It was fraternity at a very deep level, and we had just met!
What do I say to you? I invite you to consider the “Call within a Call.” St. Teresa of Calcutta, on a train journey from Calcutta to Darjeeling, received what she named the “call within a call,” which founded the Missionaries of Charity family of Sisters, Brothers, Fathers, and Co-Workers. Our life as Franciscans is a dynamic life; never ending in the pursuit of perfect joy and unswerving call to action.
You are invited. You are called.