Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Vocations labyrinth: the 3rd and 4th installments!

The B.C. Catholic and the Archdiocese of Vancouver Vocations Office are presenting a six-month spiritual journey entitled The Vocation Labyrinth. Each week, Vocations Director Father Hien Nguyen blogs his response to one of 23 vocations questions. Here are his third and fourth entries -- Paul Schratz.

What are the different kinds of vocations?

In Step 1 of the labyrinth, I shared with you the meaning of vocations and differentiated the calls and their priority. If you remember, we touched on primary vocation and secondary vocation.

Primary vocation is the invitation from God to partake in His life and love. Secondary vocation is our state of life here on earth responding to the first call. In this secondary vocation or state of life we can be married or single, and here is where I would like to explore with you in fuller details of each secondary calling and how each can respond and fulfill the primary vocation.

In marriage the couple makes their commitment to give themselves to each other for the rest of their earthly life. In this exclusive state of life that they choose to live and love each other, God continues to be the ultimate source of their union.

Their state of married life is the symbol and an expression of the covenant God has for His chosen people and Christ for his Church. In this secondary vocation of marriage, the couple is living out this state of life through their union, and the consummation of this love with God’s will is the fruit of their children.

To fulfill their secondary vocation in marriage so that they can respond to the primary vocation – a participation in the divine life and love – each spouse needs to love the other faithfully and raise their children responsibly in loving and knowing God.

Their fidelity as spouse, their responsibility as husband and wife, and their sacrificial love as parents are ways of living out their secondary vocation to lead their family closer to God and His life, which is the primary vocation.

In the other secondary vocation, single life, we have different categories of single: priest, religious, consecrated virgin, single, etc. Let us take religious life as an example of the single category.

A religious man – a secondary vocation – commits himself to God and sets aside his life for the sake of the kingdom. Thus, he is a sign and a pointer showing people the way to the kingdom.

His life of celibacy, poverty, and obedience is an anticipation of what is to come in the life with God. We can say a religious is trying to live her/his life with God in heaven here on earth. He recognizes that the primary vocation – a participation in God’s life and love – is above everything that can be offered in this earthly life, and so dedicates his entire state of single life (secondary vocation) to the primary vocation.

What is the difference between vocation and occupation?

A vocation is totally different from an occupation. An occupation is a job that helps a person to make a living whereas a vocation is a life the person lives.

Let’s take as an example your parents. Their vocation is the married life, but their jobs – an essential part of their lives – are what they do to make money to support the family. A pilot, a police officer, a doctor, etc., belongs to the mother or father, as an adjective to a noun, an accident to a substance, or an occupation to a vocation.

My parents, who live a secondary vocation of marriage, have many different jobs in their lives. Part of their vocation is to feed us, to change diapers, to educate us in the faith and life, etc. My secondary vocation is a priest and part of my vocation is to celebrate Mass, anoint the sick, baptize, bring God’s forgiveness and mercy to sinners, etc. However, as for my job, I can be working at the office at the chancery to recruit more men and women to enter the life of the priesthood or consecrated life.

I hope these explanations will give you some clarity in your discerning and help you distinguish the priority of vocations and what predicates to them.

Feel free to leave me a comment or a question and I will be happy to help you find the answer.

I apologize to those who were looking for the 3rd instalment last week. I put together both Steps 3 and 4 since they support each other. Until next week please contemplate on “how can I hear my call / vocation?”

God bless,

Fr. Hien Nguyen

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