WHAT ARE VOCATIONS?
Our Primary Vocation is to be a Saint
“The first vocation of every baptized person is to become a saint. While that may seem daunting, the good news is that this vocation does not require any discernment. The Church and Sacred Scripture both tell us clearly and definitively that holiness is everyone’s primary vocation.”
Our Particular or Secondary Vocation
“The secondary (or particular) vocation refers to the particular state of life in which we are called to fulfill our primary vocation to holiness. This particular vocation normally will have the following characteristics:
- It has been pre-determined or pre-destined by God
- It involves permanent commitment
- It involves sacrificing oneself to serve God and others
- It is recognized by the Church as a vocation
- Its purpose is to help others get to heaven
Particular Vocations for Catholic Men
- Holy Marriage
- Holy Orders (Priesthood, Diaconate)
- Religious Life (Religious Priest or Brother)
- Generous Single Life in Christ
Particular Vocations for Catholic Womem
- Holy Marriage
- Religious Life (Religious Nun or Sister)
- Generous Single Life in Christ
You ask me for encouragement and guidance, and most willingly I offer some words of advice to all of you in the name of Jesus Christ. In the first place I say this: you must never think that you are alone in deciding your future! And second: when deciding your future, you must not decide for yourself alone! […] Follow Christ! You who are single or who are preparing for marriage. Follow Christ! You who are young or old. Follow Christ! You who are sick or aging; you who feel… the need of a friend. Follow Christ! – John Paul II
Contact the Diocesan Vocation Office The Diocesan Vocation Office can be a valuable resource during your discernment process. Regular discussions with the Vocation Director may help you uncover God’s will for your life.
Talk to Your Pastor or Another Priest The pastor of your parish or another priest will also be a valuable resource during your discernment process and offer you invaluable support as you discern what vocation God is calling you to do. Developing a relationship with your pastor or another priest will also give you an up-close view of the life of a priest. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Go to Mass, Daily if Possible To discern God’s call, you are encouraged to participate in the daily celebration of Holy Mass so that you can grow in your relationship with the Lord through frequent reception of the Holy Eucharist.
Take Advantage of the Sacrament of Penance The celebration of the Sacrament of Penance is a way to experience the love and mercy of Our Lord as you strive to grow in holiness. Regular use of the sacrament will reveal your greatest struggles with living a life of holiness and provide you with God’s grace to overcome those struggles.
Adore the Blessed Sacrament The body, blood, soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ are substantially present in Holy Eucharist. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is a powerful way to grow in love with the Eucharistic Lord and to grow in the spiritual life. If the Eucharist is not exposed, then prayer in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament in the tabernacle is also extremely beneficial.
Become Familiar with the Sacred Scripture St. Jerome asserted that “ignorance of the scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” Become very familiar with the Word of God, especially the Gospels. This includes not only learning the content of the Sacred Scriptures, but also learning to pray using the Word of God.
Pray Daily In order for any relationship to grow, it takes both time and effort on the parties involved — one’s relationship with God is no different. As your relationship with God grows through prayer, you will learn to recognize God’s voice and call in your life.
Develop a Devotion to the Blessed Mother Someone discerning has no greater advocate than the Blessed Mother. Pray the rosary daily, or pray some Hail Mary’s, and ask the Mother of God to intercede on your behalf so that you may come to know God’s will for you and have the courage to follow whatever path God may leading you.
Live a Life of Virtue Those discerning should be making the attempt to grow in holiness. When you grow in your relationship with Christ, you will begin to think more like Jesus and act more like Jesus. This growth in holiness is shown by living a life of virtue.
Find a Spiritual Director Speaking with a priest or qualified individual trained in spiritual direction about one’s prayer life and seeking advice from this person on a regular basis can be very helpful. Be very selective in whom you approach for spiritual direction. Pray fervently to the Holy Spirit to guide you to the best director possible. Seek someone who is deeply prayerful, loves the Church, loves their own vocation and has a mature understanding of the struggles involved in moving closer to God.
Get Involved One’s relationship with God is not confined to the personal level. One’s relationship with God is expressed within the context of Christ’s Church and is apostolic in nature. Getting involved in your local parish is extremely important for one discerning the priesthood. Volunteer to be a lector, an extraordinary Eucharistic minister, a server at Mass, a CCD instructor, or by being involved with the parish youth group. Volunteer to reach out to the sick, the poor, the homeless, and the elderly.
Hang Around Good People Becoming a Catholic priest or religious is a counter cultural thing to do. Because of this reality, many times those who are discerning feel isolated and unsupported. Hang around people who will encourage you in your discernment and who will support you in wanting to follow God’s will for you, whatever that may be.
Read Good Books Learn more about God, your faith, your Church, and how to grow in holiness by reading good books. The Catholic spiritual tradition is extremely rich! Must reads is the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Books about the saints and books about the spiritual life are also extremely valuable. There are also some excellent books of fiction that may be beneficial for those discerning the priesthood. Of special mention are books that address the very practical issue of how to discern one’s vocation.
Attend Discernment Programs and Retreats Attend discernment retreats at seminaries or other discernment events. This retreat helps you focus on the discernment process and exposes you to many others who are discerning.
Attend Come and See Visits to Seminaries The Diocese of Lexington offers opportunities for men to visit seminaries. This allows men discerning the priesthood to see up close what it is like to be a seminarian.
Fr. Danny Schwendeman
Administrative Coordinator Vicar General