What is a vocation?

  • A vocation literally means “a call” from the Latin word vocare, meaning to call.  There are different layers in the word ‘vocation’.  The Church teaches that at our Baptism, we receive a common universal vocation to holiness.  We have a vocation to a specific state of life (marriage or virginity/celibacy).   We also have an individual, personal vocation that consists in God’s particular plan and mission for our life.  In reality, “vocation” in the third sense includes the first two and concretizes them.
Image result for call of st matthew
Above: Caravaggio’s The Call of St. Matthew. “As Jesus passed by, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me.” And he got up and followed him” (Matthew 9:9).

As Vatican II Speaking of the vocation to a state of life, Pope St. John Paul II says, “Love is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.  As an incarnate spirit, that is a soul which expresses itself in a body and a body informed by an immortal spirit, man is called to love in his unified totality. Love includes the human body, and the body is made a sharer in spiritual love.  Christian revelation recognizes two specific ways of realizing the vocation of the human person in its entirety, to love: marriage and virginity or celibacy” (Familiaris Consortio).  Man cannot give himself in his totality to anything less than a person.  This explains why although an occupation/profession, an apostolate or ministry, or a special task given by God constitute part of one’s personal vocation and can be called a vocation in one sense of the word, they do not substitute for the vocation to a state of life.


How do you know what state of life is your vocation?

  1.  You fall in love (have an interior conviction/desire/hear a voice/you just know…)
  2.  You conviction is confirmed by the other person.  In the case of consecrated life/priesthood, the Church makes the confirmation on behalf of Christ.
  3. You make the free choice to enter into a spousal relationship.  For consecrated women, they become the bride of Christ!

Here and Here  and are just two places to read some beautiful religious vocation stories online.


Image result for man cannot fully find himself except gift of self quote john paul

Gaudium et Spes, and John Paul II’s  Theology of the Body


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