This week is National Vocation Awareness week. From November 6-12, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is asking all of the faithful to pray for new vocations, to encourage those around us, and to discern in our hearts what God might have for us to do. I ask that you join me in doing these three things.
But what is a vocation? A derivative from the Latin vocare, “to call,” to have a vocation is less about what one does or is, and more about who wants it done. A vocation is a calling from God to build up the kingdom.
Traditionally—and what the USCCB is primarily focusing on this week—the only things that were considered “vocations” were priests, religious brothers and sisters, and permanent deacons. Consecrated celibate life. God called people out of their normal lives to do something more, something special, something better than regular old marriage. God didn’t need to call people to married life or to be teachers or to serve the public.
Today, that is not our understanding of God and His call. The fact of the matter is, as baptized Christians, we are all called by God to build up the Kingdom in a special way. When we were baptized into Christ we were baptized into His threefold ministry: Priest (bringing people closer to God and praying for the world), Prophet (announcing the Kingdom and teaching the world), and King (working for justice and governing the world). While, yes, in the official Church, ordained priests, religious, and deacons exercise these three roles to a much greater extent than the laity and so are critically important, there is more to the Kingdom than the official structure of the Church! What about educating children? Planning cities? Running businesses? Providing food? Healing through medicine? These things are not just nice things for a society to have, they are the very foundation a people needs to have the luxury of a working Church. They are, in a very real way, the work of God. And those who dedicate their lives to them—when they act as God’s priests, prophets, and kings in the world—have just as much of a calling from God as ordained priests, religious brothers and sisters, and deacons.
For that reason, I once again ask you to join me in doing three things: praying for vocations, encouraging others, and discerning a calling from God on your own. But in doing so, I ask that you broaden your understanding of what it means to be called by God to see all the many things that God’s Church and Kingdom needs, and realize that, as I present to you in this video, if God wants to work through someone, He’s going to do it. All we can hope for is the courage to say yes and the trust to follow wherever He may lead us.
And… if you’re looking for a really easy way to take part this week, how about sharing this video with someone who might have a call from God or on social media? For those on email, click here to view.