by Noah H. Evans
We are called to intimacy with God. As Christians, we begin this path to intimacy with God through the rite of Baptism. In Baptism, we begin to walk the path as disciples of Christ, and we seek to draw close to God in Christ through growing in love for God, our neighbors, and all creation. To talk about vocation and call in the Christian context first requires an understanding of this primary vocation of all Christians to love and to grow in love. Our vocations as Christians are our path that God has helped us to find which leads us to grow in love, and fulfill our primary vocation began at our Baptism.
The word vocation comes from the Latin word vocatio, or to summon or to call. A vocation is a calling, made by God and understood through our relationship with God and our communities. A common misunderstanding of vocation is that it is a job, or an occupation. A job or occupation may be part of a vocation, or it may not be. Vocation is about what we do, but it is also about who we are. Cistercian Monk and Abbot, Basil Pennington has said, 'Every vocation is a call to grow in love and express it in a particular context. Every vocation is a call to serve in love. This fact gives every work the dignity of a vocation, a call. Each activity we undertake is a response to God's love and presence, a part of his salvific presence and mission.'
Marriage is a vocation where God calls two people into a life long relationship of commitment and fidelity. Parenthood is a vocation that God calls individuals and couples into in order to raise and nurture children. The Priesthood, Diaconate and Episcopacy are also vocations that God calls individuals into to be leaders in the Church in a particular way. Many Doctors, teachers, lawyers, civil servants, social workers and business people see their work as a vocation. Some people see their work as volunteers in their community or service to their neighbors as a vocation. All people have a vocation, or vocations that they are called to by God. The meaning of each of these vocations can only be understood in the context of their fulfilling our primary vocation as Christians begun at our Baptism.
The process or path to finding and responding to a call from God is called discernment. Through prayer, self-examination, discussions with trusted friends, confidants, pastors and communities, we struggle to find out where God asks us to go. Every vocation and call has many vocations and calls within it, so the work of discernment is a lifelong process.
Through Baptism, you began to respond to God's call to you as a Christian. Where does God want to send you?