By Matthew Lau
“God blessed them, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth and subdue it.” – Genesis 1:28
Those present for last month’s Embrace the Grace (ETG) were given plenty of spiritual food for thought on their first day at the youth conference.
Amador Vargas Jr was the first of many insightful speakers who volunteered their time and knowledge to help guide each retreat attendee’s respective faith journey.
A former Rasophore monk, Mr Vargas builds upon his monastic insights, study of the faith and patristics.
Mr Vargas is an avid reader of the Church, who, he himself admits, struggled with the questions of salvation and vocation.
His rhetoric talk on 5 December, titled “Our Ultimate Calling – Salvation”, was tailored to fit the ETG ‘18 theme that we are “Made for More”.
Mr Vargas told The Record he hoped listeners left his talk with exuberant joy of knowing that their vocation was given to them at birth, a vocation already spelled out in the Book of Genesis.
“[Genesis 1:28] is a vocation that every individual is called to,” Mr Vargas said at ETG.
“Whether you serve the Church, and to a larger extent your community, as a celibate or as a married couple, your choice will be sanctified.
“There is a personal calling for each individual, leading you to salvation. There are 7.7 billion vocations; every unique life has its own vocation.”
Mr Vargas, a Romanian Greek Catholic in the Byzantine Rite, referred to Theosis (deification) – the concept that worshippers can experience a union with God and become like Him so much that they participate in the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4).
“Everything that you do is a waste if it is not drawing you to your vocation and transforming you in the likeness of God,” he continued.
“There is no purpose to it if it doesn’t serve God. It begins with the little tasks, that’s how you sanctify yourself.”
Mr Vargas bluntly explained that people, youngsters particularly, should worry about their vocation now and not leave it to the distant future. Otherwise, it is a grave error.
“The truth is you have to think about it right now – right now is when you are becoming the person you want to be.
“Nothing I say has any meaning if it is not put into practice. If it isn’t put into practice, it is just that, a lofty idea. If you don’t love others, you cannot know the love of God,” he expressed.
“You should take a minute of your life and reflect. If you don’t take the time to explore, you might just become that what you don’t want to be.
“You are what you do – if you do things that are going to take you to Heaven, that’s where you will go”
Mr Vargas explained that when he was originally assigned the topic by the Respect Life Office, he waited a couple of days to ponder and pray whether he had something to offer on this perennial matter, before drawing inspiration from a number of authors.
He extracted information from the Book of Genesis, the Gospel of Saint John, the Epistles to the Romans, the Philippians, the Ephesians, as well as the writings of St. Paul VI, St John Paul II, St John Chrysostom, and St Thomas Aquinas.
“I imagined how this talk could appeal to a young man or woman who may not share the faith with us and also a professional who may have doubts about life, faith and vocation… It has been a matter of reading, reflecting and praying,” Mr Vargas said.
Theosis (Salvation through divinisation) is what Christians are called to, he said, however, in order to be saved, we must “go forth and eventually come back to the Father” (Lk 15:11-32).
“The process of Theosis – making mistakes along the way – are going to get you there by sacrifice, by prayer, and by union with God,” Mr Vargas explained.
“The Original Sin wasn’t the disobedience, it was that Adam & Eve didn’t wait to become like God (1 John 3:2).
“The end goal is the Resurrection, the Crucifixion is the pathway, Theosis is the end result (CCC 460),” he concluded.