A religious vocation is above all a response to Jesus Christ – a going out of the heart in love to Him whom we believe has called us. To believe in His call we must know Him and this knowledge is not a cold intellectual knowledge but rather an experiential knowing in love and with that knowing a person responds with all one’s heart.A vocation is a call from the living Christ to follow Him, just as He called Peter and Andrew from their fishing nets. In St Mark’s Gospel (Mk 10: 17f) we have a beautiful example of a call from Jesus. As Jesus was setting out on a journey Mark tells us that a young man ran up and kneeling before Him asked what he should do to win eternal life. Jesus told him to keep the commandments and He listed them for him: Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not defraud, honour your father and mother etc. But this young man could honestly say: “I have kept all these ever since I was a boy”. At this point we are told very simply: “Jesus looked steadily at him, loved him and said: ‘one thing you lack, go, sell everything you have, give the money to the poor and then come, follow me.’” This is the essence of a vocation: Jesus looks on a person and loves her/him and the response can be like Peter and Andrew, James and John when they left their boats and their livelihood to follow Jesus (Mk 1:16f; Lk 5:1) or the response can be like that of the rich young man “who turned away sad because he had much wealth”. At least he was sad and he knew the personal love of Jesus who had looked into his eyes and loved him, but he turned away ‘sore in dread lest having Him he must have naught else beside” (The Hound of Heaven by Francis Thompson).Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He still calls people to leave everything and follow Him in love so that they may share with Him in His saving work. A vocation is always a divine initiative and it requires from us love’s response. It implies an invitation to friendship and intimacy with Jesus and through Him with the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.Jesus’ call is gentle and unobtrusive – He does not force but while gently inviting us He waits for our free response. He accepts us as we are with our fears and weakness and all our human failure. In fact very often fear accompanies a genuine vocation – Mary was afraid when the angel announced to her that she was to conceive and give birth to a son. But once we say our ‘yes’ God’s grace is always there to support us.A vocation to the monastic contemplative way of life is never a ‘me – myself’ affair – through Baptism we are members of the one Body of Christ – the Church. We carry in our heart the joys, hopes and fears of all humankind especially the poor and suffering. When we come before the Lord in prayer we never come alone but bring all those near and dear to us as well the countless masses that we have never met. They are all there in our hearts as we come into God’s presence to ask for His love and mercy for all of us and we know that our God answers our prayer according to His own mysterious plan.