FAQ about Vocations
What is a vocation?
In the simplest terms, “vocation” means a “call.” So, in general terms your vocation is what God calls you to do with your life.
Does your God-given vocation ever change? Can my vocation be changed?
What is discernment?
Discernment, the process by which one finally decides whether one is called to religious life in a particular congregation, is a word that is overused and probably often misused today. Some times “discernment” is used to justify doing or not doing what a person has decided to do or avoid well before beginning to discern. More on this...
How do I know I am called?
In order to discover what one’s life treasure and driving force (God) truly is, a person can ask him/herself some pointed questions:
- For what and for whom am I willing to expend the most energy?
- On what do I spend most of my time?
- What do I most enjoy doing?
- What dreams and goals are the most important to me and how far am I willing to go to see them come to fruition?
- In what or whom do I place the most trust?
- What is my purpose for living?
- To what or to whom am I so committed that I would die rather than betray it or him?
The answers to these questions can help a person know what is the driving force behind his or her life, and thus begin to discover what or who his or her God really is.
Why must religious wear habits? What are habits anyway?
A religious habit is a distinctive set of garments worn by members of a religious order. Catholic Canon Law requires only that it be in some way identifiable so that the person may serve as a witness to Gospel values, as simple as a mark of detachment from vanity and greed, and becoming. The habit may comprise a tunic covered by a scapular and cowl, with a hood for monks and veil for nuns; in other orders it may be a distinctive form of cassock for men, or a distinctive dress and bonnet for women. Modern habits sometimes take the form of a distinctive clerical suit for men and a simple dress suit for women. Read more here.
I am interested in becoming a nun. How do I go about this?
Can you explain the different religious and lay vocations available?
God tells us an amazing thing: that even before he created us he knew us and called us. However, this does not mean that we always automatically know for sure what we are called to do in life. God reveals his will gradually, we can always make a mistake and we can even say no to him. Fortunately, God always takes us where we are and so our concern should be only where does he want me to go from here, and not anguish over the past. God is always with us as long as we keep close to Him through prayer and do our best to live up to His will in the present moment.
What is a priest?
A priest is a man who has received the Sacrament of Holy Orders, which confers on him certain powers of Christ, principally the power to consecrate bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ, and the power to forgive sin in the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. When he does these things he acts in the Person of Christ.
What is a diocesan priest?
A diocesan priest is one who is called to serve souls in a particular diocese. The Bishop has been placed by Christ as the head of that diocese, and the diocesan priest serves in obedience to and collaboration with him, serving mostly in parishes. On a practical level you can say that the Church “runs” on diocesan priests serving in their parishes. They administer the sacraments, they are responsible for the instruction of their people, they are close to them in their lives and trials, they counsel, forgive and serve constantly, heroically, patiently.
What is religious life?
The people who live religious life are called “Religious”. Religious seek to follow Christ more closely by publicly professing the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in a recognized religious order, giving public witness of their consecration by wearing a religious habit, and they live in community.
There are religious orders or communities of men and of women. Women religious are nuns and male religious can be either priests or brothers. Religious communities often refer to themselves as “religious families”. Each has its own Founder and mission, and its own “family spirit” or spirituality. That is why if you are considering religious life it is necessary to get to know particular communities.
What is a religious priest?
A religious priest is a member of a religious community who has received the Sacrament of Orders. He is under the authority of his own superiors, and he serves the local diocese through the works of his order or congregation located there. However he is not limited to serving in one diocese but can be assigned elsewhere by his superiors. Everywhere he serves he does so with the permission of the local bishop. Some religious priests serve in parishes, but the majority have more specialized apostolates, such as education, retreats, communications, etc.
What is lay consecrated life?
Lay consecrated are people who consecrate themselves to God through promises of poverty, chastity and obedience, while still remaining lay people. They are usually associated with some group or Movement. As lay people they remain “in the world” and often exercise careers while giving a priority in their lives to prayer, witness and service.
What is a consecrated virgin?
From the beginnings of the Church there have been those who felt the call to consecrate themselves exclusively to Christ in a private manner. In recent times there has been a revival of this vocation, by which a woman makes her private consecration in the presence of her bishop.
What is contemplative or monastic life?
The contemplative dedicates much time to prayer each day, lives mostly in silence and also is dedicated to manual labor. There is a great tradition in the Church of both female and male monastic and contemplative life. Their hidden prayer and sacrifice is of major importance for the overall good of the Church.
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