“You can become what God your Creator knows you are, if only you realise that you are called to something greater. Ask the help of the Holy Spirit and confidently aim for the great goal of holiness.
In this way, you will not be a photocopy. You will be fully yourself.”
– Pope Francis, Christus vivit
A vocation is a calling from God for a special mission in life, unique to each person. The word 'vocation' comes from the Latin word 'vocare' meaning 'a call.' The call comes to us from God who has planned for us our path to the fulness of life. Every vocation is a vocation to love. Those who discern their vocation are free to respond to God either with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. However, those who respond with a ‘yes’ live a life of fulfilment. Our vocation is God’s plan for us to be the happiest that we can be; we are the happiest when we do what God wants for us. Fundamentally, God calls us to love.
“Love is the full meaning of life. God has so loved man as to give him his very life and to make him capable of living and loving in the divine manner. In this excess of love, the original love, man finds his radical vocation, which is a ‘holy vocation’ (2 Timothy 1:9), and discovers his own unique identity, which immediately makes him similar to God, ‘in the image of the Holy One’ who called him (1 Peter 1:15).”
- In Verbo tuo
Listening to God's voice
It is not easy to hear the voice of God, but not to worry! The Holy Spirit helps us to listen to God's voice. The Holy Spirit transforms us completely to be a new person. We see that this is exactly what happened when the disciples received the Holy Spirit as tongues of fire on the day of Pentecost. They were afraid and in hiding. However, they were praying what to do. Then, the Holy Spirit came to dwell in them and as a result, the apostles were completely transformed, filled with the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit and went out to proclaim boldly the good news; they were able to respond with a 'yes' to God's call. As they received the Holy Spirit, they were able to fulfil the great mission they had been called to. Therefore, the Holy Spirit plays a prominent role in guiding and directing us as we discern our vocation in life.
Some effective ways of listening to God's voice
Attending Holy Mass,
Spending time in Adoration,
Reciting the rosary,
Leading a prayerful life,
Regularly receiving the Sacraments,
Studying the lives of saints,
Asking others to pray for you,
The Universal call to Holiness
God calls everyone to a special mission on earth that only they could fulfil with the gifts and talents God gives them. God has a plan for our lives even before we were conceived in our mother’s womb (Jeremiah 1:5; Jeremiah 29:11). He calls us primarily to holiness and to be saints through our baptism. The Church helps us to listen to God’s voice through the Holy Mass, Sacraments, the rosary and the lives of saints.
When God calls us, he calls us by our name for God says in Isaiah 43:1, “I have called you by name, you are mine.” We are called with a purpose!
The Call to a Way of Life
The Church acknowledges permanent vocations: priesthood, permanent diaconate, religious life, marriage and family life, and apostolic celibacy. They all serve God in unique and special ways.
Priesthood is a calling that represents Jesus' priesthood. A man chooses to live a life of celibacy in order to serve God and his people wholeheartedly, all his life. To enter into priesthood, men study in a seminary for seven to eight years.
God chooses men. "No one has a right to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders. Indeed no one claims this office for himself; he is called to it by God" (CCC 1578).
By laying on of hands, the Sacrament of Holy Orders is received. A solemn prayer of consecration asks God to send down his Holy Spirit for the ministry ahead. "Ordination imprints an indelible sacramental character" (CCC 1597).
Only men may become deacons. In our archdiocese, men can become deacons from the age of 35, however, they must have discerned if God is calling them to be married first. They study part time for four years at St. Mary’s College, Oscott. After their ordination, they typically serve their parish.
The first deacons in history were St. Stephen and 6 others, who had hands laid upon them by the apostles to serve the Church (Acts 6). Even after 2000 years, the Church continues this wonderful tradition.
There are two branches of religious life: "...monastic communities, witnesses to the praying face of the ecclesial community; apostolic religious communities and secular institutes" (In Verbo tuo). Those who are chosen to lead an apostolic life are able to go out and serve the community, whereas those who live a monastic life are enclosed from society.
There are many types of congregations and communities all around the world, where each has different charisms and a mission based on the founder/ founders of the congregation. They make vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, and often live in communities.
Two people (male and female as God created them to be in Genesis 3:12) are united in a lifelong partnership in holy matrimony, to be with each other in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, until death. Since these are vows given in front of God, the two are bonded in marriage for life.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Jesus gives the grace to live an exemplary married life, "By coming to restore the original order of creation disturbed by sin, he himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God" (CCC 1652).
From the beginning, God created them to be man and woman so that they are open to the supreme gift of marriage: children. Parents have the responsibility to educate and bring up children in the commandments of God.
From the time of the early Church, there have been lay men and women who have reserved themselves for the Bridegroom. They, for the sake of the kingdom of heaven, make a conscious decision to live a life of celibacy to serve God and the community. They take on more responsibility towards the common good of all people.
There is no formal confirmation process as there is for other vocations, so they have the freedom to make private vows. However, there are some who chooses to make public vows in a church. There are some who chose a life of apostolic celibacy who choose to either live in a community or live on their own.
The Call to Work
God also calls us to do some kind of work, which may include volunteering, a career, occupation, profession or employment, and the use of our gifts and talents as a service to others. Through the call to work, we build up God’s kingdom in different ways, for example, engaging in works of mercy, being part of a Church group or society and living out a particular charism. It builds up society, reflecting the love of Christ. This kind of work does not exploit or take advantage of others, but brings about meaningful work that produces value to humankind. It is a beautiful way of sacrificing oneself in service of others to become more like Christ.