Do I have a vocation?

Last Updated:

Yes! In the words of Blessed Charles de Foucauld…

“God calls all the souls he has created to love him with their whole being, here and thereafter, which means that he calls all of them to holiness, to perfection, to a close following of him and obedience to his will. But he does not ask all souls to show their love by the same works, to climb to heaven by the same ladder, to achieve goodness in the same way. What sort of work, then, must I do? Which is my road to heaven? In what kind of life am I to sanctify myself?”

Created to share God’s love. The fundamental vocation of every human being is to love. This is not obvious to everyone today. Many people believe that human life is just an accident, a chance product of evolution, a meaningless event in a vast mechanical universe. It is certainly true that our lives have been shaped by many different forces, but there is a much deeper truth which we can discover through faith: Every single human being has been created by God out of love. He has made us so that we can know his love, and share that love with others, and delight in that love forever in the glory of heaven. So whatever you feel about your own worth – never doubt that your life has a meaning. God loves you and cares for you. You are precious to him and he has a purpose for your life, even if that does seem very clear to you.

Vocation as a call to holiness. One way of understanding this purpose of your life is to say that the fundamental human vocation is the call to holiness, the call to be a saint. The saints are not just heroic people who live in history books. They are ordinary Christians who have tried to live their faith without holding anything back – to love God with their whole hearts, to love those around them without counting the cost, to dedicate their lives to what is most worthwhile, to be people of joy and kindness and prayerfulness. All of us are called to be saints – however weak or sinful we feel, whatever wrong choices we have made in the past. As we read in the first letter of Peter: “As he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves; since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’” (1Pet. 1:15-16). This call to holiness is not so much a command as a promise which God makes: he promises us, by giving us his Holy Spirit through baptism, that he will help us to find our true happiness in following him, and that he will give us whatever we need for the journey.

You already have a vocation. This call to holiness is already a part of your life, given to you at your baptism, and it is so important to remember that. Whatever situation you are now in, however unsatisfactory it seems, you already have a vocation. You might be working or unemployed, studying or starting a family, travelling or caring for someone at home; full of hope or close to despair. Whatever your situation, you can trust that God is with you, and that he calls you to be holy in this very situation. Things may well change – and perhaps they need to. But at this moment you must have the trust to believe that even now there is a meaning and purpose to your life; and that you can begin to fulfil this purpose through everyday acts of love, kindness and patience.

Living well in the present. This call to live well in the present is the ‘Little Way’ recommended by St Thérèse of Lisieux – the importance of simply doing your duty, making time for prayer, loving your neighbour, bearing your sufferings; and doing all this with a generous and loving heart. It is not very dramatic, but it is the secret of holiness, and it reminds us that your first and fundamental vocation is not something to be discovered in the future – it is living the Christian life in the here and now. Perhaps this is all God wants of you for the moment. You must avoid the temptation of thinking that your Christian life can only properly begin in the future, when everything is crystal clear. And if you do not discover a more concrete vision, or if you are to die young, then you should not feel that you have wasted your life, or that your life is unfinished or unfulfilled. As Pope Benedict has reminded us:

“We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.” (Homily of Pope Benedict XVI, 24th April 2005, Mass of the Inauguration of the Pontificate)

This article is adapted from the CTS booklet ‘How to Discover your Vocation’ by Fr Stephen Wang