Every Catholic has a vocation. In fact, as a member of the Church, every Catholic participates in the reality of “vocation” in three distinct but related senses.

First, there is the common Christian vocation that comes in Baptism. Our fundamental vocation, or call, is to be holy – to become saints! This can be expressed in various ways, but in general terms it means loving and serving God and neighbor and helping to carry on the mission of the Church.

Vocation also refers to a “state in life” or a way of being Christian – priesthood, consecrated life, marriage, and dedicated single life. States in life are the special, lifelong settings in which people live the baptismal vocation and their call to holiness.

Finally, there is personal vocation. The personal vocation of each one of us takes shape in the unique combination of talents, personal characteristics, relationships and life circumstances – including both our common Christian vocation and our state in life – that point to the special role God wants us to play in his redemptive plan.

When people speak of “vocation,” they usually mean vocation in the second sense – state in life. Most Christians are called by God to the married state, and some are called to the state of single laypersons living in the world. But Jesus also chooses certain men to act in his Person through the celebration of the Holy Eucharist and the other sacraments; they are called to be priests. Others are called to a ministry of service as permanent deacons. And still others, both women and men, are called to what is known as consecrated life – a way of life marked by the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity, and obedience – whose most familiar expression is religious life.

"A vocation is a fruit that ripens in a well cultivated field of mutual love that becomes mutual service, in the context of an authentic ecclesial life. No vocation is born of itself or lives for itself. A vocation flows from the heart of God and blossoms in the good soil of faithful people, in the experience of fraternal love. Did not Jesus say: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35)?

Let us dispose our hearts therefore to being “good soil,” by listening, receiving and living out the word, and thus bearing fruit. The more we unite ourselves to Jesus through prayer, sacred Scripture, the Eucharist, the sacraments celebrated and lived in the Church and in fraternity, the more there will grow in us the joy of cooperating with God in the service of the Kingdom of mercy and truth, of justice and peace. And the harvest will be plentiful, proportionate to the grace we have meekly welcomed into our lives."

Pope Francis
World Day of Prayer for Vocations
May 11, 2014