God is calling your name. Will you respond?

God is calling your name. Will you respond?
Gretchen Crowe

Our sweetest not-such-a-baby anymore turns 20 months old this month. Like any proud mama, I could write an entire column on John Francis’s adorable qualities, like his propensity to silly dance anytime he catches a whiff of a beat, or how he quacks at anything that has wings, including, lately, the angels in Nativity scenes.

But what is really making us laugh these days is his love of the family “roll call”. While our little guy isn’t talking all that much yet, what he does do – with gusto – is say the names of his favourite people on repeat. This means the soundtrack of our home in this season of life centres on the words DADA, MAMA, DOHDOO (that’s big bro Joseph) and NNNEH (big sis Anne). And he means business. When he calls your name, he expects acknowledgement and response, pronto, or the calls will continue, with increasing intensity. It reminds me uncannily of the movie Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home, in which a cylindrical probe in outer space in the year 2286 seeks response from humpback whales on Earth and, upon hearing none from the now extinct creatures, begins utter destruction of the planet. One must acknowledge the baby roll call or face a harrowing future.

God calls us to himself

While this has offered us much laughter at home, this game of call and response has also been tugging at my heart. Consider for a moment how endlessly the Lord, too, calls us to himself, and how greatly he wants us to respond. We have been created by God for life everlasting with him, and he desires us more than anything.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes clear this probing love of the Father and how much he desires to bring all people to himself: “Man may forget his Creator or hide far from his face; he may run after idols or accuse the deity of having abandoned him; yet the living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer,” the catechism says. “In prayer, the faithful God’s initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response. As God gradually reveals himself and reveals man to himself, prayer appears as a reciprocal call, a covenant drama. Through words and actions, this drama engages the heart. It unfolds throughout the whole history of salvation” (No. 2567).

These words are a reassuring balm to my soul. We are so beloved of God that, despite all of our human failings – despite all the ways in which we seek to hide from the Lord, or seek to blame him for abandoning us – he will lovingly and persistently call us to himself. He will tirelessly call our names, and, if we are listening and open, we will be led to respond.

Searching for God

As a member of the Pauline Family, I think this time of year about the call received by our founder, Blessed James Alberione, on the night of December 31, 1900 – what is now known as the “Night of Light”. While praying before the Blessed Sacrament, Bl. Alberione heard the Lord call “Come to me, all of you … .” From this distinct, life-changing moment, Bl. Alberione’s mission in Catholic communications was born and, more than a century later, continues to thrive. But it was not just the call that made it so; a call is nothing without a response. It was Bl. Alberione’s own fiat, his own obedience to the will of God, that allowed for such abundant fruit.

We must do the same! And, thanks be to God, responding to God is inherent to our nature as human beings. “Man is in search of God,” the catechism reminds us. “Even after losing through his sin his likeness to God, man remains an image of his Creator, and retains the desire for the one who calls him into existence” (No. 2566). All we need to do is listen, discern and, like Mary and all the saints after her, say “yes”.

The start of a new year is a clean slate, a new beginning for each one of us. On this very day, at this very moment – not unlike our persistent not-so-much-a-baby-anymore baby – the Lord is calling our names. He is calling us to him. Will we hear the call and respond?


Gretchen Crowe is the editor-in-chief of OSV News.