WHAT IS VOCATION?
The word vocation comes from the latin word ‘vocare’ which means to call in order to do something. In the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament God called people in different times and in different circumstances like Abraham, Moses, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah and the twelve Apostles among others. God calls just ordinary people regardless of their weaknesses. He calls and entrusts them with the special ministry. He also purifies, transforms and makes them his beloved sons and daughters.
The word call, appear over 700 times in the bible eg,
- The call of the Apostles, Mk 3:13-19
- The call of Moses, Exodus 3:7-12
- The call of Mathew, Mathew 9:9
- The call of Samuel, 1st samuel3:1-18
- The call of Jeremiah, Jeremiah 1:4-18
- The call of Abraham, Genesis 12:1-3
- The call of Paul, Acts 9:1- 19
- The call of Isaiah, Isaiah : 6:1-10
- The call of David, 1st Sam 16:1-13etc
Vocation is a gift from God, we do not create vocation. We receive our vocation from God himself, he calls and give us this gift of vocation and therefore we choose to accept it or reject it, and His plan is what will bring us true and authentic happiness.
Since vocation is a call from God who created us for a purpose or a mission to be fulfilled in a specific way, place and time, His call to us demands faith and obedience. God Himself invites us; He proposes a plan to us, His chosen ones and then patiently waits for our response.
Our vocation has been planned by God from eternity; therefore our duty is not so much in taking our own vocation, but searching for it, trying to discover it, through prayer, but not through the influence of others or even forced by others to take certain kind of vocation.
It is important to remember that, our Lord Jesus Christ had a direct approach (Come follow me …….. ) and so the fishermen, lovers of the sea and their work, tax collector, lover of money and his work. They left their work immediately to FOLLOW JESUS. The call is direct and personal by Jesus Himself.
The response was to be immediate ‘’leave the dead to bury their dead’’ and therefore nothing could come between the call of Jesus and the person. It was simple …. Leave what you’re doing and COME FOLLOW ME.
For the seed of vocation to grow there must be from the very beginning an emphasis on prayer, both personal and communal.
Love and service are the two important and fundamental characteristics of every vocation. Every vocation is a call to love and serve others and not to please ourselves and therefore every vocation requires a great deal of self- sacrifice and self- giving.
There are three recognized kinds of vocation
- Call to marriage life
- Call to religious life
- Call to single life.
The above different vocations are holy and equal before God. If a religious or married or single person lives according to the nature of his or her vocation definitely he/she will go to heaven. Each type of call demands generous positive response embraced with love and serious commitment. The three kinds of vocations complement one another. A religious should be able to appreciate marriage and single life and vice versa because choosing one of the vocations does not make the rest bad or irrelevant.
CALL TO MARRIAGE LIFE
Cf. Genesis 1:27-28, 2:18-24 (love and responsibility in procreation)
1st cor, 7:1- ff (marriage and virginity)
Marriage is a sacrament, an outward sign of the couple, love for God and each other.
A man and woman freely choose to spend their entire lives with their chosen partner and to accept with love and responsibility the children that God chooses to bless them with.
In bringing up a true Christian family and giving witness to their love and faithfulness to each other, they give God great honour and glory. Husband and wife exercise authority and responsibility together.
A happy married couple is the result of an ever- deepening love relationship, between themselves and God. If they make God their third partner in their marriage, they will always experience His help and grace through the difficult moments.
The strength and success of any marriage is measured by how much one is willing to give and sacrifice for the other.
The Consecrated life
Consecrated life, in the canonical sense is defined by the Catholic Church, as a stable form of Christian living by those faithful who feel called to follow Jesus Christ in a more exacting way recognized by the Church. It is characterized by the public profession of the evangelical counsels, in a stable state of life recognized by the Church.
The code of canon law defines it as ‘’ a stable form of living by which the faithful, following Christ more closely under the action of the Holy Spirit, are totally dedicated to God who is loved most of all, so that having been dedicated by a new and special title to His honour, to the building up of the Church and to the salvation of the world, they strive for the perfection of charity in the service of the kingdom of God and having been made an outstanding sign in the Church, foretell the heavenly glory.
What makes the consecrated life a more exacting way of Christian living is the public vows or other sacred bonds whereby the consecrated person commit themselves, for the love of God, to observe as binding the counsels of CHASTITY, POVERTY AND OBEDIENCE from the Christian gospel or at least in the case of consecrated virgins and widows/ widowers a vow of total chastity.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church comments; that ‘’ from the very beginning of the Church there were men and women who set out to follow Christ with greater liberty and to imitate him more closely by practicing the evangelical counsels. They led lives dedicated to God, each in his own way’’ Many of them under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, become hermits or founders of religious families. The Church, by virtue of her authority gladly accepts and approves.
Consecrated life may be lived either in institutes or individually. While those living it are either clergy (ordained) or lay people, the state of consecrated life is neither clerical nor lay by nature.
At the origin of the religious consecration there is a call of God for which there is no explanation apart from the love which He has for the person whom He calls. This love is very personal, unique and gratuitous.
Cf. Mathew 19: 11-12 (called for the sake of the kingdom of God)
1st cor, 7:32-35(unmarried and service)
Mathew 19:16-30(the rich young man)
People who join consecrated life have love for God and others, which comes from undivided heart, allowing them to love without limit, following the example of Christ Himself.
Call to Religious life – this is a way of following Jesus, imitating His life of poverty, Chastity and Obedience. The evangelical vows the religious people take.
By their vow of poverty they over to God all that they have and are ready to share with others, and through the vow of chastity they are called to love others non-possessively. While the vow of obedience, they promise to listen for and follow the will of God in their lives and be open and available to be sent where they are needed.
They are also committed to live fully in community life where each member has the opportunity to share their joys, pains, failures and successes and have the support of the others who have been called to the same vocation.
Signs of vocation – it’s important to note that everyone has a personal vocation.
There are three basic signs for any vocation
- The desire for that particular kind of life, that is do I have a desire for this kind of life? Am I attracted to it? Does it give me a certain amount of satisfaction, enthusiasm or joy or some kind of positive feeling?
- The right motivation for the life.
- Fitness for the life.
How do we tell if one has vocation?
It is difficult to pin that down because vocation is first of all, a mystery. God does not just jump out of the sky and tap us on the shoulder or knock us off a horse the way, he did with some people in the bible. God uses very ordinary means to let us know what He is calling us to a particular way of life, and this is always very personal to each one of us.
Qualities expected of those ready to serve in the church
- God must be calling you, to serve Him among His people, wherever you will be sent.
- Good health, due to different duties in the church.
- Good and moral behavior
- Sound mental ability
HOW DOES GOD CALL
God calls us through our daily experiences in different circumstances. A good example is the call of Moses who was called while shepherding animals (Exodus 3:7-12.). The disciples were called while fishing (Mark 1:4-20) etc. Through our daily activities if we listen carefully we will hear voice of God calling us for His service. The positive desires that we experience are provoked by God’s call and we need to pay attention to it seriously. When we want to choose our vocation we require spiritual directors or directress to avoid confusion. Samuel was confused by the voice of God. He thought it was Eli calling him but through the direction of the priest Eli, he clearly knew who was calling him. (1st Samuel 3:1-19) After we are directed we then choose our vocation so that we may own it.
In conclusion everyone is called to a particular kind of vocation. God calls all of us, we only need to pay attention to God’s call and respond to it generously. Again let us remember; that, God does not call the qualified, He qualifies those He has called.
Prepared by: Sr. Agnetta K. Wambua, FSSA
Former Vocation Animator