The Three Vocations of the Catholic Church
Kianna Garmanian, Staff Writer
It’s February- which means it’s time for Valentine’s Day and relationships. So, whether you have been dating someone for five years or are “single as a pringle and ready to mingle,” then there is something in February for you.
Contrary to popular belief, Valentine’s Day doesn’t necessarily have to be spent with your significant other. However, if you are in a romantic relationship, or are married, you likely will. But, for everyone else, there is no need to lose hope or feel discouraged. The Catholic Church supports and teaches us that there are three vocations: the single life, married life, and the religious life or priesthood. Let’s take a closer look at each of these vocations and what they are comprised of.
The single life: Did you know that being single is a vocation that is fully supported by the Catholic Church? For clarification, this does not mean being single by default because you are not having any luck in the dating world. However, if you feel drawn to marriage, but have not yet found the right individual, don’t worry- it may not be your time yet. If you are called to marriage, God will, in his timing, place the right individual in your life. Here’s the thing- an individual who is truly being called to the single life will feel strongly about this choice in his or her heart. There are many reasons why someone might feel drawn to the single life. For example, some desire to have the time to do more service work, church projects, or activities that require much of their time and attention. Now, you can certainly still do service projects while being married, but your time will also be occupied by your spouse and children. Another factor that makes up the single life is celibacy, which means abstaining from any sexual relations/activity. The Catholic Church teaches that individuals should practice chastity because our sexuality is a beautiful gift from God that was created and intended for a man and woman in marriage, so that the union of the two allows for the blessing of new life- and this is so sacred. So, for a consecrated single person, this means devoting one’s life to God in a pure and faithful way, one that is free from sexual activity.
Marriage: This vocation is the most popular of the three vocations, but this doesn’t mean that it is better than the others. Maybe you have dreamed of marriage your whole life or planned out the perfect wedding in your mind. But, marriage is much more than an elegant white dress, fancy flowers, and suits. If you are called to the married life, there are a lot of responsibilities that come with this. As I briefly mentioned earlier, the Catholic Church teaches about the sacredness of human life, which includes our sexuality. Therefore, our sexuality is a gift from the Lord, and is not intended to be abused or misused. In marriage, two people, husband and wife, come together in a beautiful union. The two fleshes are united into one, and the Lord showers his blessings upon the couple. Now, as a united couple, the man and woman can be open to the fruitfulness and blessing of children. There are many graces that come from marriage- but it is so important to open your heart to such blessings, so that you may be a channel of grace in which God can pour out his mercy. Campus Minister Angela Carlin remarks, “It’s not enough to discern a call to the married life. Choosing the right partner is its own process of discernment. The hard work of marriage – putting another’s needs, hopes, and dreams above your own, communicating with patience and respect, and nurturing love through the mundane parts of day-to-day life – is truly worth it when love can flourish and serve as an echo of God’s love for us.”
Religious life/ Priesthood: Last, but certainly not least, the religious life. All the monks you see around campus are vowed members of a religious community (in this case, Catholic Benedictine), so they have been called to this vocation. Each religious community professes different vows that they live by and follow. For the monks at Saint Martin’s, they take the vows of stability, obedience, and conversion of life. An individual who feels called to the religious life may feel a deep desire to offer one’s entire self to God or devote their life to serving Jesus in a religious community. The priesthood, which is a calling for men, is also part of this vocation. Catholic priests take vows and devote themselves to serving God and the people by administering the Sacraments, working in parishes, and doing service work. Priests can choose to either join a religious community or work for the diocese. Women who are called to the religious life can become nuns, and such women also take specific vows to offer and devote themselves fully to God and their religious community.
These are the three vocations that the Catholic Church teaches, and if you are unsure as to where you may be called, remember that God will lead the way and show you the path. Continue to pray and be open to the will of the Lord, who always has your best interest in mind.