“Quo Vadis” is a Latin phrase that in English means “Where are you going?”
“Quo Vadis” is also the name of a novel written by Polish author Henryk Sienkiewicz, first published in 1895. The book sets its story in ancient Rome, during Emperor Nero’s reign.
Today, we live in a world of people searching… questioning and wondering… Where am I going? Quo Vadis is a universal call to introspection, reflection and discernment. But it is also a unique and personal question God asks of us. The answer is our vocation… the person God is calling us to be.
Today, younger people struggle with anxiety and depression more than at any time in history. Many suggest this is because we’ve become untethered from faith and disconnected from God. The novel Quo Vadis reminds us of a time when heroic men and women, committed to their faith and inspired by the Holy Spirt changed the world by responding to God’s call.
The Heroic Vocation of the First Christians
Emperor Nero followed Emperor Claudius. The book Quo Vadis portrays life during that time in the Roman Empire. Sienkiewicz’s meticulous research and attention to detail in depicting Roman society, customs, and events have contributed to the book’s enduring popularity.
The book and phrase Quo Vadis is important in literature and culture because of its historical significance. In Christianity, St. Peter saw Jesus on the Appian Way, on the way to the Roman Forum. Peter was running away from persecution in Rome. This is a well-known story in the Christian tradition.
In John 21, we read that Peter the apostle asked Jesus where He was going. Jesus declared, “I will journey to Rome to endure crucifixion once more.” This gave Saint Peter the courage to go back to the city and face his own death for his belief in God.
The book and phrase “Quo Vadis” deals with universal themes such as love, faith, courage, and the struggle between good and evil. The novel is relatable to readers from diverse cultures and time periods, even in modern times.
The novel explores early Christianity and the persecution of Christians under Nero. It explores faith, martyrdom, and the conflict between the Roman gods and the growing Christian religion. These themes are important for people of different religions and beliefs, like Jewish and Palestinian people today.
Critics have praised Sienkiewicz’s writing style and storytelling prowess for their richness, vividness, and emotional depth. The novel’s characters are well-developed, and its plot is engaging, which contributes to its enduring appeal.
The plot of the violence in the Gaza strip is engaging today too, but for vastly distinct reasons. Pictures of damaged buildings, bodies covered in white, cries of hurt kids, and the sorrow of hostage families.
People around the world have read the translated version of “Quo Vadis” in numerous languages. Its influence extends beyond Poland and Europe, making it a truly global literary work. Many people have seen the wars in Ukraine and Palestine through mass media, TV, and social media.
The author drafted the book in Poland during a time of division and lack of independence in the country. Remarkably similar circumstances exist today with the state of Israel and the Palestinian state. “Quo Vadis” provided a sense of cultural identity and inspiration for Poles struggling for independence. People of the Christian faith and others are striving for peace, safe homes, and an end to bombings and missile strikes.
This book tells powerful stories. Today, people in Gaza, hostages’ relatives, and students share stories and actions, seeking peace and hope. The word “vocation” is more than merely something they read. Quo Vadis, vocation is a challenge, a gift of God, which leads to action.
What is Your Vocation?
People today are asking the question Quo Vadis too. What are we doing to be a peacemaker, in our family, our schools and neighborhoods, in our cities and towns?
Do we use and develop the talents God gave us? Our calling pushes us to grow as believers who share faith, build community, and foster trust. We have a challenge, a calling to actively participate in the work of James and John and the apostles.
Quo Vadis and our faith invites us to discern where we will go, what we will do, and how we will serve others. The twelve apostles were powerful examples of how to live our faith, and people today offer examples too.
Vocation to the Priesthood
The Catholic Church offers compelling service-oriented vocations, where people can help others discover God’s mercy and love.
As a Norbertine, you would live and pray with others to share the Good News of Jesus’ love. You would serve the church, the People of God, by teaching, reading, or giving communion to those who can’t come.
Answering the question “Where are you going?” can help you find a religious group that shares God’s love and kindness. Thinking about this question is important. It can guide you towards a religious community that aligns with your beliefs and values. This community will embrace and practice God’s love and kindness.
We celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week from November 5-11. The US Catholic Church holds a yearly event that lasts for a week. This event aims to inspire people to consider becoming priests, deacons, or living a dedicated life.
During this event, participants engage in activities such as praying, learning, and showing support for those considering these vocations. It involves praying, learning, and showing support for those thinking about these vocations.
NVAW began in 1976 when the U. S. bishops designated the 28th Sunday of the year for NVAW. In 1997, they moved this celebration to coincide with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which falls on January 13 in 2013. They moved NVAW to the first full week of November starting in 2014.
“Quo Vadis” Where are you going?
Visiting Daylesford Abey in Paoli, PA, could be a first step. You could attend Mass with the Norbertine priests. You could also explore the abbey grounds and the Outdoor Stations of the Cross. The photo shows the Arbor Gateway to the Stations and a trail map of each station.
That is a question many ask today, young people graduating from high school, discerning which college to attend and what their major will be.
People discerning their profession, their work, and following that question, ask where they will work. The phrase “Quo Vadis” evokes themes of direction, purpose, and one’s journey in life. The choices are many, and National Vocation Awareness Week gives people a chance to explore religious vocations.
Visiting Daylesford Abbey is a wonderful way to begin. However, each journey begins with an initial step. Click here to read and learn more about a Norbertine Vocation at Daylesford Abbey.