You Have A Vocation

One of my oldest and dearest college friends is a parish priest in a small southern town.  He spends his days with the people of his congregation.  He counsels them, listens to them, prays with them and visits them in their homes, or at their hospital bedsides, wherever and whenever they need him.  He presides at their marriages, baptizes their children, hears their confession, and is there with them as they lay dying.  He is woven into the fabric of their lives. He has a vocation to the priesthood. Another friend is a nurse who works with very sick, very tiny newborn babies.  She is the first person to hold them as they come into the world, desperately clinging to life.  She bathes their incredibly small little bodies and weighs them on a scale that measures in grams, not in pounds.  She uses needles that seem as thin as a hair, in veins that seem no larger.  She works twelve or fourteen-hour shifts on her feet responding to crises and heartbreaks and the merciful graces of a life saved.  She has a vocation to nursing.
All of us know someone who works in a field that seems to call them to a life of dedication and service that goes beyond the ordinary.  We think of firefighters, teachers, policeman, soldiers and others as having “vocations” to their particular professions.  But here’s a newsflash:  every life is vocational. What does that mean?  What’s the difference between a life that is merely lived and a life that is lived out as a mission?  Look at the people that you know and think of the ones that are really and truly happy.  Yes, we all have our share of troubles and hurts and disappointments—but think of those people in your life who seem to be happy in the midst of all of life’s trials.  These are people who have a sense of mission in their lives.  They don’t work just to make money and acquire more possessions.  Selfish pleasures give them little joy.  They live to make a difference in the lives of other people.  No matter what their state in life, whether single or married or widowed, and no matter the source of their income, these people know that their lives are created for a greater purpose.  So how do you find your mission, your vocation?
The first thing you must realize is that no one creates their own mission in life.  No one chooses their heart’s vocation.  Someone sends you on your mission.  Someone calls you to your vocation.  As Catholics, we believe that Someone is Jesus Christ.  We believe that every human life is unique, precious, irreplaceable, and personally and intimately created by God for His purpose.  No one else on earth can ever be the person God made each one of us to be.  We believe that God has a specific plan for each of our lives.  This plan is our mission or vocation in life.  He calls us out of ourselves to open our hearts to Him.  Everyone has a vocation.  And living out your vocation is saying “yes” to God’s call, it is being really and truly free as only the freedom which is found in Christ can give. You can be a janitor, a lawyer, a factory worker, a taxi driver, or President of the United States—anything you can imagine.  If you live your life authentically open to God’s call in your heart, then you’ve found your vocation.  You can be like one of those people that you know whose lives radiate purpose and joy and peace.  Just as Christ lay down His life for His sheep, He calls us to lay down our lives at the foot of His Cross, for His great purpose.  When you offer your life back to the One Who gave it to you, your reward is the peace that surpasses all understanding (Phillipians 4:7).  You will have begun to live out your life’s mission.
“…the faithful must see their daily activities as an occasion to join themselves to God, fulfill His will, serve other people and lead them to communion with God in Christ.”
                  —Pope John Paul II, Christifideles Laici, 12-30-88

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