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Think about vocations, and who has one

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Miracle nears final recognition

• Father Ernest Brainard
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placeholder January 10, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 1   •   Oakland, CA
Think about vocations, and who has one

During January most dioceses in the United States celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week. This is a good time to think about vocations and who has one. Who do you think has a vocation? If you answered that everyone has a vocation, you get an A.

Sister Margie Lavonis

So often we hear people limiting the term “vocation” to the priesthood and religious life. I hear many people, especially parents with children in Catholic schools, complain that we just don’t have enough vocations, but in truth we each received a vocation when we were baptized. All followers of Christ are called to build God’s kingdom and spread his love. This commission is not simply for the ordained and the consecrated religious, it is our common call. Each of us has the responsibility to prayerfully discern how we can best live this call in our lives.

The Church recognizes four basic lifestyles or ways for Christians to live our baptismal call. Most people are called to live the Gospel in the sacrament of marriage. Some are called to do so as dedicated single persons. Others are called to dedicate their lives to build God’s kingdom of love and justice as ordained ministers or as members of religious communities.

Discovering how we are called to live out the promises we (or our godparents for us) made at our baptism is a serious task and should not be taken lightly. Prayer and discernment are required to choose which religious congregation to enter, or to determine which person is the right one to marry or even if we are called to marriage and parenthood at all. When we talk about discerning a vocation we mean all vocations, not just priesthood and religious life. No one should go into a marriage lightly or make a decision when in the infatuation stage of a relationship. Perhaps if this task were taken more seriously, there would be fewer divorces.

Each lifestyle is a valid way to follow Christ. It is up to each of us to explore and find out how we can best live out the Gospel. We need to be open to all the options in order to discover the right way for us. Most are attracted to the beautiful sacrament of marriage. This is the lifestyle for the majority of men and women. Even so, each person should at least consider the other ways of life in order for marriage to be a real choice and not just something expected by others.

Certainly, everyone is called to choose his or her own vocation, but parents and other significant adults must guide young people and make them aware of all the possible ways to answer God’s call. This is even more important today with the breakdown of marriages and with so few people answering the call to ordained and consecrated life.

Take a moment now to think about your vocation. How are you, as a follower of Christ, called to build God’s kingdom and spread his love?

(Holy Cross Sister Margie Lavonis works in communications for her religious community in Notre Dame, Ind.)

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