Thursday, October 13, 2016

What is vocation?

We've talked about many of the practical aspects of becoming who God meant for us to be.  But today I want to briefly touch upon one of the essentials. I say briefly because it is a very vast subject and I will get into some details later next week.

Today I want to talk about vocation. Vocation is defined as, very simply, a "call". It comes from the latin word "vocatio": to summon, to call, invite. But to look at it further, there are specific vocations or calls to every person. First there is the primary call to holiness. Then there is the natural call to marriage between one man and one woman. And finally there are the supernatural calls of the priesthood and religious life. In all these vocations, there is the great gift of giving oneself to another. The gift is always meant for God and it is accomplished either through another or through others.

The sincere gift of self is the only way to come to the full realization of who we are and what we are created for.

What I want to emphasize here is that we each have a call. There is the one call that is for all of humanity, the call to holiness. To be holy means to be set apart. To be of God. That is why many times you will hear, "to be in the world but not of the world." Since we were created by God, we are set apart for God. We live in the world but our work, our love and our service should be firstly for God. To be holy, is to live this call. It also entails that "every man shall be saved." "This is good and pleasing to God our savior, who wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth." 1 Tim 2:3-4. We should set out to reveal Christ to everyone, first through our actions and then through our words.

The natural call to marriage is natural because we all have the innate desire to give ourselves to another. This is a call that is felt in all hearts. The desire to love is natural because we were created in love and for love. But then there are those who feel an even greater call. A greater call to give themselves in a supernatural way. I refer to supernatural in the sense that it takes God's grace in order to live out. It cannot be lived out solely from human desire.

Because the call to priesthood and religious life are supernatural it is also a specific call that God makes to specific people. Not all are called to these vocations. It must be discerned by the Church and by the person who believes he is receiving the call.

Finally there is another call that is hardly ever mentioned, but nonetheless exists. It is the call to single life. The call to single life exists when the person chooses to forgo having a family and does not necessarily feel called to priesthood (if they are a man) or religious life. Yet, this person feels a great call to serve the Church and God in a way that would not allow them to have a family. This is also a specific call and has, in the last few decades, become closely tied to the call of "lay consecrated life". Lay consecrated life is the call to celibacy (not marrying) for the Kingdom of God, while still living and working in the world. This vocation is not lived within a monastery or a convent, although it can be lived in the context of a community, most likely a lay-community.

We will take a look at the more specific aspects of some of these vocations in the days to come.
Vocation is essential in becoming the person God created you to be. Vocation helps us to use all of our gifts and talents in the setting that is best suited for us. It is true that most of us will go on to marry and have a family but it is important to recognize that some of us, some of our children, will be called to a higher vocation. We must learn to recognize and nurture these vocations so that we, or our children, can live out God's call to the fullest and in turn be filled with a joy that is complete.

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