A call that invites response
By Sr. Patricia M. McCormack, IHM, EdD
Pope Francis frequently speaks of vocation, the act of being called by God to relationship with him. Vocation is God’s free gift, a grace, and a share in God’s life. God’s love invites a free response.
God created us “to know him, to love him, and to serve him in this world and to be happy with him forever in the next.” Jesus explained that the core of our call is to love the Lord our God with our whole heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (see Matthew 22:36–40).
Vocation calls every person to develop a lifelong, age-appropriate prayer life, to learn and love Scripture, and to practice both the spiritual and corporal works of mercy as well as the principles of Catholic social teaching. When we live true to the purpose of our creation, we grow in holiness. Additionally, contentment and satisfaction follow our efforts to live a yes-response to God’s call.
We live out our vocation within the context of one of four states in life (married, single, priest, religious); therefore, the term “vocation” also refers to our specific mode of life.
Marriage calls spouses to find and to serve Jesus in each other; to grow in self-awareness and unselfishness; to learn how to model Jesus’ forgiveness and compassion; and to be the herald of the gospel to their children.
Single life calls forth generosity of time and talent to serve humankind more radically. It frees the person to imitate Jesus’ zeal and availability and to be his love and proactive presence in society.
The call to priesthood sets a man apart to make available God’s presence in word and sacrament and, by holiness of life and outreach, to lead people to God.
Religious life calls men and women to consecrate their lives and their gifts of nature and grace to the total service of God and God’s people. Religious profess voluntary vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience. With other sisters or brothers, they live a common life of prayer and work. Often distinct clothing or symbols identify them as members of a particular community.
Service in God’s name characterizes each of the four lifestyles. Parents, teachers, catechists, and the faithful witness of others tutor us in understanding, appreciating, and learning ways to live our vocation more fully. Whatever the vocation, know that “God’s love does not call where God’s grace cannot keep! … If God calls you to it, God will see you through it.”
Sr. Patricia McCormack, IHM, EdD, is an international consultant and public speaker on issues of whole-person formation.
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