In our first posting, we briefly discussed the idea of “vocation” as a distinct personal invitation from God to become the person we were intended to be. In this posting, we will focus on the religious vocation—God’s call to live a life consecrated to serve Him by serving His people.
As we noted in posting 1, each of us has unique gifts that identify us as individuals and that incline us towards specific interests. Recognizing these gifts and discerning how best to use them is a task each of us must complete as part of responding to God’s call. The religious vocation invites us to publicly dedicate ourselves to a life of service to others through vowed commitment to God. Religious vocation is still a personal and distinct invitation from God; the response, while still personal, offers our individual talents to be used for the benefit of others as our way to serve God.
We dedicate ourselves to a life of service in religious vocation through a public statement of commitment. This public statement is formalized by the making of the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience—solemn commitments to live a celibate life focused solely on God’s will and detached from the accumulation of material wealth.
Other public signs of a dedicated life of service in religious vocation may be seen in the wearing of a veil, a simple habit, or, as is most often the case, a symbol of a particular religious congregation and Christian faith in a pendant or pin. In addition, a religious vocation joins the individual with a community of other individuals committed to serve God through their service of others.
The religious community—the congregation—acts as a powerful agent in the service of God: members contribute to the mission of the congregation through their distinct talents and their profession of the vows. And, each religious congregation, contributes to the mission of the Church as part of the larger community—The Body of Christ. Vowed commitment to live a life for God by serving others characterizes the religious vocation. Whether our response to God’s call is lived in a religious congregation or in another kind of community, each of us is invited to answer God’s invitation freely and completely. When we answer “yes,” we begin the path to becoming who we were intended to be. When our answer leads us to religious life, we walk this path placing the needs of others first and keeping our gaze fixed on God.