The word vocation comes from the Latin word vocatio which is a call or summons. It is a term that originated in Christianity, although now it is often used in non-religious contexts.
In the Catholic Church, the usual sense of the word today is specifically a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, but prior to the sixteenth century, the term vocation referred firstly to the “call” by God to the individual, or the calling of all humankind to salvation. The idea of vocation is central to the Christian belief that God has created each person with gifts and talents oriented toward specific purposes and a way of life.
In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read about vocation in the broadest sense:
Love is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. (CCC 2392)
This divine call to service to the Church and humanity is lived through particular vocational life commitments such as marriage, consecration as a religious, a holy life as a single person, and ordination to priestly minstry in the Church. A Christian vocation includes the use of one’s gifts in their profession, family life, church and civic commitments for the sake of the greater common good.
In 1997, the bishops of the United States moved the observance of National Vocation Awareness Week to coincide with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. This year, the Feast is celebrated on Sunday, January 13th. During this week, let us take time to listen for the way in which the Lord is calling us to live out our baptismal call so that, like Him, we may live our most authentic life.
Let us pray:
O Lord, help me know your will
Let your light shine in the depths
of my heart
that I may know what you want
me to do with my life.
Help me believe that you have
a special plan for me.
Lord, I know I pass through this
life only once;
help me decide how you want
me to make a difference.
Like our Blessed Mother, give me
the wisdom to hear your voice
and the courage to answer
Above all give me peace
of mind and heart.
I offer this prayer in the name of
Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Find this prayer as well as other prayers for vocations on the USCCB site).