People search for meaning and spirituality in so many places. St Augustine was one such seeker. He finally declared: "My heart was restless until it rested in you", in God. One way Catholics understand the life in Christ that gives us meaning and hope, is that we are responding to a call, or vocation, from the Divine.
Today vocation (from the Latin word 'vocare' - to call) is understood to be the call to holiness for all Christians by virtue of our baptismal call to live in the spirit of Jesus Christ. There are many things people 'do' as part of a vocation. But the tasks or jobs do not define the vocation. A Christian understanding of vocation - as a married, 'single', consecrated religious or ordained person - refers to 'who' we are in relation to others. Therefore more than being simply a career, our vocation is a life commitment (publicly expressed or privately made) for the sake of the Church's mission to proclaim the Gospel. Choosing to follow Jesus Christ in our vocation is the most important choice we can make in life. Find out more about vocations.
Two pathways are celebrated as sacraments: marriage and holy orders (ordination of deacons, priests and bishops).
Our Church upholds the dignity of Christian marriage and the beauty of living together in a Christian family. The couple makes a public commitment before God and the world that they will love one another all their days. This is a marvellous witness of God's enduring love and a sacrament of hope for humanity.
"The intimate community of life and love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator... God himself is the author of marriage." Gaudium et Spes 48
God who created us out of love also calls us to love - this is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. For we are created in the image and likeness of God who is love. The mutual love of man and woman becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves humanity. It is good, very good, in the Creator's eyes. And this love which God blesses is intended to be fruitful and to be realised in the common work of watching over creation: "And God blessed them, and God said to them: 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.'" Gen 1:28; cf. 1:31. See Catechism of Catholic Church, 1604
The grace of the sacrament is to "help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children". Lumen Gentium 11. Christ is at the heart of the marriage. Christ dwells with the couple, gives them the strength to take up their crosses and so follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another's burdens, to "be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ". Eph 5:21. They are called to love one another with supernatural, tender, and fruitful love.
see Catechism of Catholic Church, 1641, 1642
Deacons, Priests and Bishops all offer a vital way of living out our call to follow Jesus Christ as they minister to God's people.
Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time; thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. It includes three degrees - episcopate (bishops), presbyterate (priests), and diaconate (deacons).
Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1536
This priesthood is ministerial. "That office ... which the Lord committed to the pastors of his people, is in the strict sense of the term a service." Lumen Gentium 24.
It is entirely related to Christ and to men [and women]. It depends entirely on Christ and on his unique priesthood; it has been instituted for the good of men [and women] and the communion of the Church. The sacrament of Holy Orders communicates a "sacred power" which is none other than that of Christ. The exercise of this authority must therefore be measured against the model of Christ, who by love made himself the least and the servant of all. Cf. Mk 10:43-45; 1 Pet 5:3.
"The Lord said clearly that concern for his flock was proof of love for him." (St. John Chrysostom, De sac. 2, 4:PG 48, 636; cf. Jn 21:15-17) see Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1551
Want to know more about this way of life?
Single Life and Religious Life
Single life has its special place and circumstances and is also an avenue of grace, and opportunity for service. And of course, we should take seriously the call of God to religious life.
The important thing for all of us is a commitment to serve, to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed.
At World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne, Pope Benedict XVI said that: "Anyone who has discovered Christ must lead others to him. A great joy cannot be kept to oneself. It has to be passed on."
How seriously do we respond to the call to be a disciple of Jesus that was given by God to each of us at our Baptism? How do we discern ways that we can encourage each other in the living of our particular vocations? For "when we are whom we are called to be, we will set the world ablaze." (St Catherine of Siena)