I vividly recall when this question was first put to me. It was on the tube towards Tooting on our way to Kelston [in Wandsworth] to listen to the then Conservative Party candidate for Parliament speak about his vision...
I vividly recall when this question was first put to me. It was on the tube towards Tooting on our way to Kelston [in Wandsworth] to listen to the then Conservative Party candidate for Parliament speak about his vision for Tooting. Pedro, knowing I had been involved in politics and hold an interest in the realm of ideas, invited me along. The two of us set out on the journey from Netherhall where we lived together for the better part of the academic year 2014-2015. Those words continue to echo in my mind as I pursue and discern my vocation.
We are all asked by God to consider our vocation in life. The very word stems from the Latin vocare – to be called. We are called by God to a particular state in life which will ultimately lead us to holiness. For Pedro, this vocation came in the form of a Numerary of Opus Dei, and having lived with him I can only be in awe of the dedication he put into following this Divine calling. I saw him while he suffered, but I also spent a lot of time with him in moments of joy, study, and work. He took all these roles upon himself with tremendous fervour. This model of Christian life has been an inspiration to me. And to have been close enough to be able to call him a dear friend has made the impression all the more profound. It was to no small part through Pedro that I was inspired to seek my vocation to the priesthood, although after four wonderful years in seminary I discovered that this was not ultimately the path God was asking me to take. All Christians have a duty to seek their vocation, but not all are called to the same walk of life.
While Pedro and I lived together at Netherhall, we shared many conversations about philosophy. I had recently discovered the work of Sir Roger Scruton and been fortunate enough to make his acquaintance. For Roger, philosophy cannot be divorced from religion without passing over its true vocation. Philosophy is not a vocation as a state of life, but in colloquial terms it is a ‘calling’ to think, and as a Catholic it is an invitation to think with and about God. Pedro inspired this pursuit which I have seen as my true calling in life, as I seek to ask questions, inspired by the question he once posed to me. So what is my vocation? It is to seek holiness by means of my profession, and paraphrasing the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, the piety of thought resides in questioning. By asking questions we come closer to the answer, and the answer to the question of my vocation would not have arisen had it not been for Pedro’s original – and somewhat forthright – question.
Once his illness was discovered and explained to us, one mutual friend of ours turned to me and said; ‘perhaps he is the only one of us who is ready to go?’ The rest of us continue to navigate our path in life, no doubt aided by the prayers of Pedro.
Karl Gustel Wärnberg is a Swedish philosopher and writer.