This week, I had the opportunity to travel to Rome, my favorite place in the world. Thanks to a good friend, I was able to watch the annual swearing in of the Swiss Guard, which was a sacred and moving experience. Later that evening, I had dinner with my Italian cousins and the discussion turned to my work. One of my cousins told me that she doesn’t practice the Catholic faith because she doesn’t like “all the obligations”. Juxtaposing the two experiences, I thought about the difference between “obligation” and “duty”. Doing a quick Google search, the difference between the two words seemed marginal at best. It was clear to me that the Swiss Guard had a duty, and my cousin felt obliged.
Perhaps the difference is in the Holy Father’s words: Do we understand our lives and leadership as a duty to protect, to preserve, to pass down? Or, do we feel constrained and obligated to a job, a task, or a relationship that is forced upon us? If I am honest, it might depend on the day, but I am going to try to keep the Swiss Guards solemn oath in the forefront of my mind. Understanding my “tie to others” and embracing my duty may free me from feeling obliged and help me more fully realize how God’s calling me to serve. Arriverderci!