The word “vocation,” just like the word “love,” tends to slip into a place of ambiguity. Many different definitions of words are formed and are often generalized into one, which can lead to a misunderstanding or misconstrued notion of the word. For example, “vocation.” In my five years of being the Director of Vocations I have had multiple conversations with various people across the board from parents, grandparents, discerners, children, young adults, etc. And if you were to ask, “what is your vocation?” I have often been met with:
“Oh Father…I am not called to be a priest…”
“I am not called to be a sister…”
“I love to be married…”
“I love women/men too much…”
And much more!
It has led me to see and reflect that the word vocation often is associated with being a priest or a nun. I ask us to dive into deeper reflection here. The word vocation comes from the Latin root word vocare meaning “to call.” We remember that a vocation is a concept of responding to a call to something more and not a destination to arrive at. It is not about achieving a profession/career, but a relationship with God we are called to strengthen.
We read in chapter 5 of Lumen gentium, a document from the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, “Therefore in the Church, everyone whether belonging to the hierarchy, or being cared for by it, is called to holiness, according to the saying of the Apostle: ‘For this is the will of God, your sanctification.’”
Holiness is the primary and universal vocation that we all have.
Before the Catechism of the Catholic Church was published in 1997, many people relied on the Baltimore Catechism. This catechism was in a question-and-answer form to help Catholics understand and know their faith. One of the questions I turn our attention to is,
Q: “Why did God make you?”
A: “God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven.”
If this can be our firm foundation, with the deeper understanding of a call to holiness, we would be in a much better place in our church to respond to her needs. Rather than asking ourselves, “what do we need to do with our lives?” we should be asking “How can I continue to respond to God’s call to holiness with great love?”
The happiest priests, nuns and married people whom I have seen are the ones who embrace the calling of their vocation to holiness and greatest love. It is not meant to be easy, but I have seen such great peace for those who make that resolve. In Bishop Barron’s podcast & eBook, “How to Discern God’s Will for your Life,” he answers the question “How do you determine your status, your state, your vocation in life?” by saying, “Broadly speaking, what God wants for you is the path of greatest love. God is love. Love is the whole point of the spiritual life.” Vocation is a call. A call to what? To greatest love. We are called to know the Beloved (Jesus Christ) and to know that you are beloved.
Take this week to appreciate and love the vocation that you have been called to. Pray for a deeper conversion in your heart and others’ hearts to follow the path to greatest love. It is only in this that we will find peace in our heart, our whole being, and our whole strength.