What is a vocation?
The definition of a vocation is a "call." A vocation is a call from God, and anyone who has felt God's call knows that the process is anything but simple. While most people think of a vocation as what they are called to do in life, it is important to understand that the first and most important call from God is a call to be - the universal call to holiness.
Called to Holiness
This distinction between a call to holiness and a call to a specific vocation - single person, married life, consecrated life or ordained ministry - is important. The universal call to holiness is rooted in our baptism. It is a call to know, love and serve the Lord. It is a movement that draws us toward a deeper union with God. We feel a growing desire to love God and to love our neighbour. We come to understand that there is a reason for our existence and there is meaning in our lives.
The universal call to holiness is an ongoing discernment experience. It keeps opening our eyes to new awareness of God's loving presence. It keeps inviting us to turn toward God by aligning our will with God's will. A willingness to do God's will is supported by two convictions. We believe that God loves us more than we love ourselves and that God wants our happiness more than we want it. In other words, we believe that God knows more than we do about what will make us truly happy. And so we pray in discernment asking for the guidance of the Holy Spirit to be open to and to respond loving to God's call.
Someone who has chosen a single life makes a personal commitment to put their freedom at the service of others in their work and prayer. And in doing so, they strive to follow Christ in their daily lives.
For a married Christian couple, they follow Christ by giving themselves to each other completely and without any reservation, promising to love each other faithfully for the rest of their lives, sharing their joys and sufferings in whatever circumstances life brings them. They express their love through their sexual union, which brings them together in the closest intimacy and opens them to the gift of new life.
For someone who has chosen the consecrated life, their path of following Christ is through their vows of chastity, poverty and obedience. They are called to live as Christ lived; to model their lives on the life of Jesus- chaste, poor and obedient - rendering their hearts more free for prayer and service.
A Catholic deacon is an ordained minister who shares in the apostolic work of the Bishop. The title "deacon" comes from the Greek word "diakonos," which means "servant." The vocation of deacon carries the profound responsibility to pour out one's life in service to others, just as Christ who came "not to be served, but to serve."
For those who have chosen the ordained ministry, through sacramental ordination, they share in the priesthood of Christ in a special way through vows of chastity and a vow of obedience to their Bishop. Their very beings are transfigured so that they can represent Christ the Good Shepherd for God's people and Christ as the Head of the Church. They not only offer their own lives to the Father, as all Christians do, but they also stand before the Church and minister to the faithful as Christ 'in person.' Thus, when they teach with the authority of the Church then Christ teaches; when they absolve sins in the sacrament of Penance then Christ forgives; when they offer the Sacrifice of the Mass then Christ offers that Sacrifice; when they love, support and care for God's people then Christ is present with his people.
If you have questions about a call to holiness, click on Vocations Office to explore the website.