Husband & Wife Articles


No Vacation from Vocations

By Jason Godin

Every lay person, through sacramental faith, plays an integral part in the saving mission of Christ and his Church

The Catholic Church in the United States celebrates National Vocation Awareness Week (NVAW) from January 13-19, 2013. According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, its twin purposes are “to promote vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life through prayer and education” as well as “to renew our prayers and support” for individuals discerning a religious vocation. Each year NVAW focuses needed attention on the supply of clergy and official institutional needs of the Church. Importantly, NVAW also provides an opportunity to awaken our understanding that vocations aren’t mere jobs for some but gifts of God’s grace for all.

Catholics pray “I believe” in the Apostles’ Creed when reciting the Rosary. The “we believe” of the Nicene Creed echoes across the sanctuary during celebrations of Mass. But who, exactly, makes up the faithful who profess belief in the “holy”, “Catholic”, “one” and “apostolic” Church? Today’s conventional wisdom suggests that the Church contains little more than a bunch of old, celibate men clinging to even older beliefs. But the People of God are more and serve a greater purpose. They include not just the hierarchy of bishops and priests and individuals consecrated to a life of service to God and the Church, but laity as well. Through Baptism, every one of these groups participates in “Christ’s priestly, prophetic, and royal office in their own manner,” are “called to exercise the mission which God has entrusted to the Church to fulfill in the world,” and to do so “in accord with the condition proper to each one” (CCC, 871).

In other words, the laity constitutes countless men and women from numerous walks of life. It includes many husbands, wives and children – families – who, along with members of other families, form living cells in the Body of Christ. Every single lay person, precisely through sacramental faith, not only finds a particular place in the Christian family but also plays an integral part in the saving mission of Christ and his Church. The Catechism teaches that the laity are “to seek the kingdom of God” by “engaging in temporal affairs” and “directing them according to God’s will.” They’re also “to illuminate and order all temporal things with which they are closely associated” (CCC, 898). It is within the context of such faithful service that the foundations for lay vocations both flow and flourish.

Superficial faith suggests that fulfilling lay vocations simply requires one to do their job and no more. For families to realize God’s kingdom in a world plagued by sin, though, isn’t ever a mandate to just “live and let live.” Fully confronting the many obstacles placed before humanity requires lay faithful “discovering or inventing the means for permeating social, political, and economic realities with the demands of Christian doctrine and life” (CCC, 899). An active faith that accepts others inside and outside the Church must make withdrawals on the limited deposits of our time, treasure and talents. Diversity of ingenuity provides a strong, sure path in this regard, but only when it acknowledges the existence of sin through senses strengthened by the sacraments and exposes sin in all its forms with those senses directed in service to Christ and his Church.

Families must never take a vacation from their vocation. The grace of God opens for each of us an extraordinary destiny. But to begin to reach such fulfillment, to live with God in eternal happiness, requires that we act toward and with others in the unique, daily ordinariness of our lives with works fueled by loving faith. To do so is normal, necessary and never accomplished alone.

Married with two children, Jason Godin teaches United States history at Blinn College in Bryan, Texas.