Come unto me,
Drawn by Charles Bosseron Chambers (1882-1964),
Executed in 1928
Print on Paper
© Christian Art

Come unto me,
Drawn by Charles Bosseron Chambers (1882-1964),
Executed in 1928
Print on Paper
© Christian Art

Gospel of 7 September 2023

They left everything and followed him

Luke 5:1-11

Jesus was standing one day by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the crowd pressing round him listening to the word of God, when he caught sight of two boats close to the bank. The fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats – it was Simon’s – and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.

When he had finished speaking he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and pay out your nets for a catch.’ ‘Master,’ Simon replied, ‘we worked hard all night long and caught nothing, but if you say so, I will pay out the nets.’ And when they had done this they netted such a huge number of fish that their nets began to tear, so they signalled to their companions in the other boat to come and help them; when these came, they filled the two boats to sinking point.

When Simon Peter saw this he fell at the knees of Jesus saying, ‘Leave me, Lord; I am a sinful man.’ For he and all his companions were completely overcome by the catch they had made; so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were Simon’s partners. But Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on it is men you will catch.’ Then, bringing their boats back to land, they left everything and followed him.

Reflection on the engraving

Charles Bosseron Chambers was a famous illustrator in America in the first half of the 20th century. (He is often referred to as the Normal Rockwell of Catholic art). His very straight to the point and vivid illustrations were often published in the Catholic printed press. His father, an Irish captain in the British Army, was a convert to Catholicism, and thus Charles was brought up in a devout Catholic household. In 1916 Chambers moved to New York and established himself in the Carnegie Studios, Carnegie Hall, where he had a private studio. Not a bad place to have a studio! Between 1920 and 1950 millions of Chambers’ religious paintings were reproduced as prints, holy cards, calendars, magazine covers etc. These brought him national recognition and a steady source of income.

The illustration we are looking at today was commissioned by the Diocese of New York to help promote vocations to the priesthood. We see a young man studying books. Christ with a burning heart is standing behind the man. The man in the picture was Thomas F. Lynch (1911-1979) who posed for a series of portraits in the the late 1920s and early 1930s encouraging young men to enter the priesthood. Our print here, called ‘Come unto me’, depicts Christ looking straight at the young man, calling him to the priesthood or religious life. Just as Jesus called the twelve to follow him as his apostles, as in our Gospel reading today, God continuous to call men and women today equally to a life of sacrifice and service to others, following Christ fully and unconditionally. Like every grace, this vocation can only be accepted as an unmerited gift from God.

Simon was called by Jesus to go beyond his comfort zone, to put the boat of his past life behind and to follow Christ. Simon placed his skills and talents before Jesus, and trusted him so they might be used for a greater good. An adventure was about to unfold. This encounter was radical and life-changing….

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Jamie Cardinal
Member
Jamie Cardinal
8 months ago

Duc in altum et laxate retia vestra in capturam. “Cast out into the deep, and let down your nets for a catch”

Saint John Vianney, Curé d’Ars, patron saint of parish priests, pray for us and pray for all the good men who become parish priests.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
8 months ago
Reply to  Jamie Cardinal

Amen

Andy Bocanegra
Member
Andy Bocanegra
8 months ago
Reply to  Jamie Cardinal

Amen

Andy Bocanegra
Member
Andy Bocanegra
8 months ago

I need to pray more for vocations. We have a new pastor who is young and faithful to Church teaching. I can see the comparison to Norman Rockwell. As for the scripture verse, I still like the versions were Jesus says, ” I will make you fishers of men.”

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
8 months ago
Reply to  Andy Bocanegra

I agree- some things do get lost in translation Andy

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
8 months ago

With a few young men of faith I have known well enough, I have impressed upon them what great fellas they are and asked them the favour to me of considering the priesthood as their future – just to consider it….
One is now PP of the largest parish in our diocese.
The latest one is taking his A levels….well, we shall see.
Once asked, I don’t mention it again – the rest is up to Our Lord.

I love the fact that Simon says ‘Away from me Lord, I am a sinful man’ such a beautiful response at his being faced with the overwhelming goodness and holiness of Jesus who does not pick up on that at all but instead forges ahead and tells him not to be afraid – he has something incredible lined up for Simon Peter – the sinful man. God’s love is wonderful – our sin is not the thing he focuses on.

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
8 months ago

Beautifully expressed, Patricia, thank you. Think you’re so right about planting the seed and then leaving it to the Lord….

Andy Bocanegra
Member
Andy Bocanegra
8 months ago

Thank you Patricia for planting the seed of vocations in the minds of the young men. I’m glad to see some of of them acting up on it. We can never have enough of good priests.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
8 months ago

Although I have never done this directly I do agree about leaving things to the Lord. Good work though Patricia!

Maria Jose Beriain
Member
Maria Jose Beriain
8 months ago

Gracias Patrick por el cuadro y recordarnos la vocación al sacerdocio…
Que el Espíritu Santo llene vuestros corazones sacerdotales con el fuego de su amor…

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
8 months ago

The difficulty for me is that the picture is at odds with the gospel reading. Peter, James and John were fisherman, doing hard physical labour in heat and sometimes uncertain weather on the lake. Peter’s reaction to their almost overwhelming catch was humble: Leave me Lord for I am a sinful man. By contrast the young student in the picture is achingly clean-cut, and ready for study, clearly a ‘good’ boy. Leaving aside racial characteristics, I quite like the portrayal of Jesus, with his expression of gentle understanding – but the young man not so much!
There should be room in the church for the clean-cut and the rough and ready. Am I, are we, living lives that will be an inspiration to young men to feel that the priesthood is for them, that they want to spend their lives in the service of God’s family? I wonder if the recent World Youth Day will result in an increase in vocations discovered?
It’s hot and humid here, I must away to carry on the day, harvesting and freezing apples, perhaps picking blackberries, which are particularly luscious this year. Also a couple of visitors…. Wishing you all a good day, may the Lord bless you and keep you.

Will Howard
Member
Will Howard
8 months ago
Reply to  Noelle Clemens

Ahhhhhh THANK YOU Noelle for expressing your “difficulty” and critique of Chambers’s ‘clean cut’ contrast with the Gospel!

I too am suspicious of the depiction of “deep water” as simply a metaphor for ‘deep into textbooks’. Jesus wasn’t/isn’t a kind of guardian angle whispering into clean-uper-cut young man’s ears’. Rather, like Chamber’s father, the ‘V’ocational call is to great discipline/challenge/courage/service, even grave risk of life, comfort and security. Just so, Jesus’s call to His apostle’s was in fact an ’embodied nautical contact lesson of miraculous adventure’ (… Vs a comfy Carnegie Hall studio -grin).

And yet, it is presumed that such ‘advertisement’ was timely/appropriate for that era (the 40’s- 60’s) and did fill the seminaries with a soft educated elite of young men … ‘from good homes?’ Sadly, it also marked the era of the highest occurrence of priestly pedophilia in the West … and of course, an era of Vocations that would lead to the mass exodus of ‘liberated’ clergy and Religious from consecrated life in the post conciliar period of growing confusion.

In my ‘tongue and cheek retirement’ I reflect on the grave lack of young men’s attraction to the Faith, never mind the Priesthood. And I find myself fascinated with ‘our’ Jordan Peterson’s (Canadian) outreach to young people (especially disenfranchised young men )- filling auditoriums with lectures on Genesis about how to ‘make your bed’ in life. Or of late I’ve been tracking through a podcast, “Jocko Podcast 332: Andrew Huberman. Influence/ Ownership Over Your Physiological Psychological Being”. If I was a young man again – this is how I’d want to approach/respond to the Lords Call on my life.

I’m more than convinced that the ‘new, highly condensed /concerted ‘V’ocational call, will be to an era of less than metaphorical ‘martyrdom’. The remnant of the remnant of young men called to the Priesthood today will be by all means an elite class, but this time the more, as the original set of apostles: able to navigate very deep and terrifying waters.

PS … you’ve apparently got lots of ‘likes’ … but where are the ‘comments’?

Will Howard
Member
Will Howard
8 months ago
Reply to  Noelle Clemens

Forgive me: one more li’l comment.
.. I think Mother Teresa was calling her young women and men on a similar tack into the ‘deep’ when she wrote:
Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is bliss, taste it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
8 months ago
Reply to  Will Howard

Thank you, Fr. Will, for the quote from Mother Theresa, shall value it. We were chatting today about the use of the words luck and fortune, which she uses – ‘Life is luck make it.’ As Christians shouldn’t we say blessing – but it’s too ingrained in us, I think… Agree about navigating deep and terrifying waters, these are deeply disturbing times, but when were they not?

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
8 months ago
Reply to  Will Howard

Doesn’t seem very religious to me father. The sort of thoughts a Tiktok influencer would post. Sorry if that is a strange reaction.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
8 months ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Some aspects of this make me wonder too Chazbo, particularly about luck. I just can’t match this with what I know about this Godly Saint.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
8 months ago

I’m just sorting out a few practical things this morning , then I will be commenting fully!

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
8 months ago

Some times things happen that make you feel something strange, I think the word is uncanny- or maybe providential?
I am not going to comment on the image today but I am going to share something with you all and ask what I should do.
A few months ago a young man started attending our church. He endeared himself in the parish by being helpful in parish activities and coming along to mass and other liturgies, even though he isn’t Catholic.
Last night we were chatting and he revealed a couple of things to me, including that he was thinking of becoming a priest. I was the first person outside his family that he told this to.
The thing was that what he said didn’t really surprise me, but after my initial reaction (which I admit, was to laugh, as he isn’t even a Catholic yet!) I was overwhelmed by the possible seriousness of what he was saying and I simply didn’t know what to say in response.
I am looking for any advice that you think, (maybe even Father Patrick could help with), in what I now do with this information?
I asked if he had spoken to the parish priest, which he hasn’t, and I told him to pray on it and keep asking for God’s guidance, and that obviously he has to go through the RCIA first. I know the parish priest told him not to rush into this either. I tried to impress on him that this isn’t a light matter.
In the end I suggested he speak to someone who had been through the RCIA fairly recently, and he said he had (though not about becoming a priest) but I had to be honest with him and admit my own inadequacies in this.
I probably wouldn’t have mentioned this here today, if it wasn’t for the image (happy to say nothing like this young man!) the reading itself, and Father Patrick’s remarks, which all seem to have come together in some sort of coincidence?
Please let me know how I should manage this? I have no intention of breaking his confidence (although I have done it here!) but at the same time I want to point him in some sort of direction, if I can, now that he has told me this.
Of course, I will pray for him and ask that you might do the same.
Maybe someone has been in my (or his?) situation.
I await your responses, although I have a busy day ahead, I hope you will give me some guidance too!

marleen de vlieghere
Member
marleen de vlieghere
8 months ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

What an amazing story SFG. I pray for you and the boy!

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
8 months ago

Thank you Marleen!

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
8 months ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

That’s strange as a similar thing happened in our parish!!!!! Except the young man didn’t confide in me but the PP. This young chap came in off he street, he was completely secular, and was overwhelmed by the atmosphere in the church and started to take steps towards the priesthood. It’s a long story but he then spent two years with the Dominicans, decided that wasn’t for him, and went into the secular priesthood in our diocese. One Easter he read the Passion at the Good Friday service and I have never heard it read with such feeling and emotion. I should have recorded it but probably not appropriate.
So quite a story. He is now a serving priest in the next door parish. Excellent….

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
8 months ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

A really inspiring story- thank you!

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
8 months ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

I think you should encourage him to take steps in this direction. Let’s face it, he has quite a number of hoops (and years) to jump through before priesthood (just ask Patrick) but it is also lengthy process to undertake the RCIA to become a Catholic and he might bow out any time, even on that phase of the journey.
If he has faith, that’ll sustain him.
Well done SFG x

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
8 months ago

Yes Patricia. And I would say that it is not that unusual to hear of men saying that they interested in the priesthood but it often doesn’t go all the way. Later in life it is quite a dinner party conversation piece to say “I was going to be a priest!”

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
8 months ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

Yes, I agree and we have similar stories in my family too!

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
8 months ago

Indeed he has a long way to go, but we shall see.

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
8 months ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

It’s a good thing that the whole process is rigorous. Would it be useful to know what his previous history is, in church life? Could you help him tease out why he wants to become a priest?
Listening is one of the greatest gifts we can give another, and he must trust you very much to have confided in you in the first place. Guess it’s important the young man doesn’t mistake your PP’s caution for undervaluing of his desire to become a priest. Even if he didn’t get there eventually, there are many wonderful ways of serving… Praying that everyone involved will find the Lord’s way forward for him. 🙏🤲

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
8 months ago
Reply to  Noelle Clemens

Thank you Noelle- wise as always. It is difficult to know when we are encouraging and when we are discouraging, but he is still very young and as you say, we are all called called to be priests, prophets and Kings. I didn’t want to quiz him too much but did tell him to just pray on it, and grow in his relationship with the Lord. I think after a busy day I should just let go and let the Lord do what is needful.

Noelle Clemens
Member
Noelle Clemens
8 months ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

Amen, sleep well.

ChristineGN N
Member
ChristineGN N
8 months ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

SFG,
It would seem this young man saw something in you that inspired him to confide in you. What a blessing!
Here in America, each diocese has a vocation director. Maybe if you have the same set up where you live, you could steer this young man towards your nearest vocation director. They are equipped to handle this sort of situation and may be able to give him more personally directed advice on how to proceed.
And as others have said, praying always helps .

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
8 months ago
Reply to  ChristineGN N

Thankyou- we do get on well and I enjoy talking to him. I thought he had the making of a priest from the beginning, but that is not for me to judge. We must have a vocations director in the diocese, but maybe it is too early for that. I hope he does complete the RCIA though, but again that isn’t for me to influence. We’ll see.

Andy Bocanegra
Member
Andy Bocanegra
8 months ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

SFG, keep him constantly in your prayers and place him before our Blessed Mother and under the intercession of St. John Vianney. More importantly, just be a friend to him. The Holy Spirit will guide you in this situation. I will keep you and him in my prayers.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
8 months ago
Reply to  Andy Bocanegra

Such wise advice Andy! Thank you.

Thimas@
Member
Thimas@
8 months ago

A wonderful sentiment regarding the gift of vocation, but as in many of the old fashioned drawings and statues Jesus does not look like a Palestinian Jew!

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
8 months ago
Reply to  Thimas@

I would agree, but this doesn’t bother me as much as the young man wearing a suit! Certainly not your typical student, although I know it was much more common for young men to dress like this back then.

Julie
Member
Julie
8 months ago

God certainly continues to call,
as Fr. Patrick so aptly wrote. However, we as mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents, and friends must encourage our youth to respond “Yes!”, to see it as a certain option, to answer this call that God is asking of them to be His, totally and fully. The call of Vocation, God’s true and beautiful will for one’s life, be it married, religious or single is the key focal point to consider and aim for and in turn will help our youth find meaning in their existence.

Jesus speaks to the culture of our souls. Just as He did to Peter and friends, he spoke in fisherman language (can you imagine these big burly men tugging at the nets out of pure joy, the fish slapping them in the face from sheer capacity) to inspire a certain yes from the depths of their beings. We must encourage our youth to allow Jesus into the boats of their particular situations. To let Him speak to their individual talents/language, to amaze them, to inspire them, to possibly provide them with a personal spectacle like he did for Peter et al and ultimately lead them on a fascinating journey to Everlasting Life with Him.

At first I was a little suprised at the choice of art but after Father’s wonderful explanations I was left with a warm smile as many times I have prayed from these prayercards passed down from my grandparents printed with these unique images. Thank you, Fr. Patrick.

Please excuse the lack of punctuation, etc.as I am typing from my phone.

Have a wonderful day full of joy and grace!

Julie

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
8 months ago
Reply to  Julie

You too Julie!
Your first paragraph is spot on- how can we moan about the lack of priests if we haven’t encouraged our young men in this way? I am guilty of this as much as anyone. Although my son was an altar boy, until the incense made him faint once during Sunday mass, and then he stopped. Clearly not his calling!

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
8 months ago
Reply to  spaceforgrace

Our parish priest asked our son to be an altar boy and he said “save your money Father, you don’t need to buy me an alb!” I was rather embarrassed but our priest laughed!

Patricia O'Brien
Member
Patricia O'Brien
8 months ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

😆 even those who do are not always ‘holy’
I have a little photo of my dad on the St Bernard’s Altar Boys Outing in about 1930. They look a right crew – being one is no recommendation that’s for sure – dad always said what a bunch they were and added it was also a good way of getting a few bob – getting to serve at funerals, or weddings…
I once asked a priest in our parish why he wanted to be one and his first response was that he fancied himself swanning about in those vestments…I think there was more to it than that – but it made me laugh.

Chazbo M
Member
Chazbo M
8 months ago
Reply to  Julie

Many parents resist their sons’ call to the priesthood. It means the end of the family line, no grandchildren etc. Someone else can be a priest is the thinking.

spaceforgrace
Member
spaceforgrace
8 months ago
Reply to  Chazbo M

It is a hard calling I agree, but also a great blessing for the family.

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