Hello May! Last week, we focused on the significance of Jesus’ mother, Mary, as our spiritual mother who Jesus entrusted to all of us. He gave us the maternal care of his mother when, from the height of the cross, he tells his beloved disciple John, “Behold your Mother,” and to his mother, “Behold your Son.” It is fitting, then, on this Mother’s Day, that we call to mind the role of mothers in our lives. As we reflect on mothers, I also invite you to reflect on the beautiful cradle that encompasses all mothers, which is the vocational life.
In the simplest of terms, a vocation is a calling that has been placed on one’s heart from the Lord. In the Catholic tradition, there are three primary vocations. Note that we are referring to big ‘V’ vocations. One might be called to a lot of little ‘v’ vocations in life such as a particular career path, responsibility, ministry, etc. but the three big ‘V’ vocations are intended to last for life and are one’s fullest path to authentic service and holiness to God, neighbor, and self. The three vocations in the Catholic Church are married life, ordained/religious life, and consecrated single life. In all three of these distinct states of life, one is able to strive for holiness.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church outlines each of these vocational paths and how one is able to serve God and others within their vocational calling. All three vocations are valuable. Men and women who enter into the sacrament of matrimony devote their entire lives to love and serve one another and any children that come from their marriage. The family life has often been refereed to as “the domestic church” and is where the faith is first instilled and nurtured. The love between a husband and wife is intended to mirror the sacrificial, self-giving love that Jesus has for the Church.
Ordained life is those who have been called to devote their entire lives to serving the Church as a Bishop, Priest, or Deacon. These men have felt the call to take up the mantle of Christ and serve the Church following in the footsteps of Christ as the first apostles did, administering the sacraments, caring for the church community through a life of humility and compassion. Those Sisters, Nuns, Brothers, and Monks serving in religious communities is also a vocational path to holiness: teaching, caring for the sick, devoting one’s life to deep prayer and contemplation, and serving others. Finally, the church recognizes those living in the single-life as a vocational path to holiness. These men and women not married or serving in an ordination or religious life are also able to draw others to Christ by their devotion to the Lord and attentiveness to the ways their talents and skills can benefit the larger community of faith through their unique contributions to work, volunteering, evangelization, and ministry. All of these vocations are extremely valuable and require great prayer and trust to determine where one feels the Lord is calling them to best serve and grow in holiness.