Vocations–There’s More Than One
When I say (or rather, type) the word “vocation”, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?
Okay, so maybe you don’t think of Bing Crosby. I just sort of have a thing for him. Anyway, my point is that most people think first of the priesthood. That’s a vocation, right? Yes, of course it is. We’ve all seen the cool videos asking us to pray for vocations to the priesthood…we know it’s a vocation. Many people, both Catholics and non-Catholics, are frustrated and even angry because this vocation is open to men and not to women. Some people feel like this relegates women to a second class position, that somehow women are less than men because they cannot be priests. This makes the Church completely sexist, right? How can the Church say that women can’t be priests, that they are somehow confined to the backseat?
The problem, I would suggest, isn’t with the Church, but rather with those who feel that the fact that women cannot be priests somehow makes them second-class citizens. The problem is in this skewed idea of what makes a vocation.
Okay, you guys. The priesthood is awesome, and you’ll never hear me say anything other than that. However, it is one vocation among many. Vocations are callings from God–not all are called to the priesthood. Let’s put some faces to these other callings from God.
Well, first, let’s talk about marriage. Why don’t we think of that first when we hear the word “vocation”? Marriage is a calling from God just as much as the priesthood is. The couple is called to care for any children they may be blessed with, and also to help each other to grow in holiness. This is a huge responsibility! Couples who are blessed with children have the huge job of seeing that their children, the future of the Church, are educated in their Faith and attend Mass and receive the sacraments regularly. In short, they become responsible for the child’s physical and spiritual well-being. Married couples not blessed with children still have the duty to help each other grow in holiness, and they also serve to support each other through difficulties and lift each other up through joyous times. If we discount marriage as a vocation, where in the world do we leave the Church?
And of course, we can’t forget vocations to the religious life. Why don’t we think of that first when we hear the word “vocation”? These men and women have given up their lives to prayer and service. Where would the Church be without the constant prayers of the religious? Where would she be without their love and service? Where would she be without their fidelity and sincerity in living out the call they received from God?
Another example: What about the vocation to the single life? (By the way, single people, you aren’t “forever alone”–that’s ridiculous.) This is probably the last thing to come to your mind when you hear the word “vocation”, but it’s important. Single persons are witnesses to Christ’s love in a way different from those in the religious life, and also different from priests and married persons. The person called to the single life is called to give of him/herself to others by living a chaste and celibate lifestyle in the world.
We should be careful not to put one vocation up on a pedestal to the detriment of others (and I’ve only named some vocations here). Is the priesthood awesome? Yes, of course! But so is the married life, the religious life, and the single life. We can’t possibly put any of these vocations down because each vocation is a call from God, and any call from God is special and holy.