One of the beautiful things about being Catholic is how God has a plan for every single one of us in our lives.
Unlike a lot of people who drift around aimlessly in life with no concrete plan or direction, we know that our lives are not condemned to an uncertain future. We all have a state in life that we are called to, a specific purpose to our lives, a vocation that we are to fulfil.
What then is a Vocation?
VOCATION DEFINITION – vocation means a call. Our vocation is God’s call or invitation to us, to love and serve Him and His Church in a particular way in life. It is a call to a concrete state in life.
It is a lifelong commitment to something that God wants us to do as well as a call to be the unique person that He made us to be. All Catholics are called to live holy lives and to be saints, but God calls us to be saints in different ways; some to be wives, others to be nuns/sisters, others to be consecrated and so on.
As a Catholic, one of the first questions we get asked, when meeting other Catholics for the first time, after initial introductions are out of the way, is “What is your state in life”
The terms ‘vocation’ and ‘state in life’ are generally used interchangeably and in many cases, they are one and the same, and in others, not. More on that later.
WHAT ARE THE VOCATIONS, ACCORDING TO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH?
The main vocations are:
- Religious Life
- Consecrated Life
The priesthood is a vocation open only to Catholic men, and as this is a blog primarily for Catholic women, we will not discuss that in this post.
Some people will argue that Single-hood or the Single Life is also a vocation……but, more on that later.
The vocation to marriage is a call to love and serve God by giving of yourself faithfully to your spouse, loving and serving him, sharing with him all the ups and downs that life brings, to being co-creators with God by bringing forth new life through sexual union and intimacy. Public vows and promises are made. Marriage is both a vocation and a sacrament ordered towards the good of the spouse and the education and procreation of children resulting from the union. The family becomes a symbol and a reflection of God’s love in the world.
The vocation to the religious life is a call to be a Bride of Christ, to love and serve God as part of a religious community, separated (in part or in totality) from the world. Public vows and promises of celibacy, poverty, chastity and obedience are made, and the vocation call can be to be sister within an active religious community or a nun within a cloistered religious community.
If you have already discerned that you are called to the religious life, but are having a little trouble deciding which religious order is right for you, then you may like to read my post Discerning The Right Religious Order For You.
The vocation to the consecrated life is a call to perpetual chastity and celibacy, devoting your life entirely to God. Public vows and promises of poverty, obedience and celibacy are made, but you continue to live and work within the world. Although, you will not experience physical motherhood, you will experience spiritual motherhood, loving and nurturing those within your care.
The Consecrated Single Life vocation is quite rare as most would prefer to enter a convent or join a religious community.
However, recently 3 women entered this vocation in Detroit, USA and see more about it HERE
SINGLE-HOOD OR THE SINGLE LIFE:
A lot of people within Catholic circles are divided over whether single-hood is a vocation or not. Some people insist that lay single-hood is a vocation. I say………. No, it is NOT a vocation.
In my opinion, single-hood is a state in life, but not a vocation.
A person that is single by circumstance (death of a spouse etc) or that is still waiting for a life partner is not having a vocation. Single-hood is their state in life, which can change, NOT a vocation. A vocation is specifically a call – see above. Also, unlike vocations to marriage, religious life and consecrated life, no public vows and promises are made in single-hood
Now, the single life CAN be a vocation if one consecrates oneself to live the rest of their life dedicated exclusively to God, but then that would mean a vocation to the Consecrated Life (see above), would it not?
All vocations will involve suffering and sacrifice, but when lived faithfully, our vocation will bring us great rewards, joy and deep fulfilment.
Discerning our vocation goes more than just making a decision on whether you want to get married, join a religious community or live your life in perpetual celibacy consecrated to God.
Discerning your vocation entails discerning God’s will for you and answering the question “How best am I called to love? How does God wish to use my life to serve Him and others?”
As St Catherine of Siena said: “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire”
ad Jesum per Mariam