Every Christian person has a vocation. Our word ‘vocation’ comes from the Latin ‘vocatio’ which means ‘a calling’. Through baptism each person is called by God to become more like Jesus Christ- to share his life and love, to grow in knowledge and love of God, and to place our personal gifts and talents at the service of others.
God’s call is always an invitation to ‘choose life’ (Deuteronomy 30:19): God calls many to choose life in the vocation of marriage; some to choose life in the single vocation; and others to choose life in the vocations of sisters, brothers, priests and deacons. We come to know and appreciate the vocation to which God calls each person through prayer and reflection, and through speaking with others about our hopes and desires, our gifts and talents. In responding to God’s call to each of us, we can experience what Jesus has promised: ‘I have come that you may have life, and have it to the full’ (John 10: 10).
“The whole Church is a priestly people. Through Baptism all the faithful share in the priesthood of Christ. This participation is called the ‘common priesthood of the faithful.’ Based on this common priesthood and ordered to its service, there exists another participation in the mission of Christ: the ministry conferred by the sacrament of Holy Orders, where the task is to serve in the name and in the person of Christ the Head in the midst of the community” (Catechism, 1591).
There are two sacraments at the service of communion: Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony. Both of these sacraments confer a special grace directed not towards the salvation of the one who receives the sacrament, but to the salvation of those who are served by the one ordained or married. In Baptism and Confirmation, we are consecrated or set apart from the world by God and for God; in Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony we receive another consecration. Bishops, priests, and deacons are consecrated to feed the Church by the Word and grace of God, and spouses are consecrated for the duties and dignity of marital love and family life.
Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the messianic mission of Christ continues in His Church until the end of time. The three degrees of this one sacrament (episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate) are a participation in the apostolic offices of teaching, sanctifying, and governing given by the Lord Jesus to the Twelve. In Roman law, the word “order” designated a group or civil body within society, and “ordination” means incorporation into an “order.”
A baptized man is ordained into one of these three Orders by a prayer of consecration and the laying on of hands by a bishop in apostolic succession, and this liturgical action of Christ and the Church confers on the one ordained the sacred power to preach the Word of God and administer the other sacraments, according to the station of each Order. Bishops and presbyters share by different degrees in the one ministerial priesthood of the New Covenant; by their consecration, bishops and priests are configured to the Lord Jesus in such a way that they can act in His Person in the sacred liturgy and stand in the Person of Christ, Head and Bridegroom of the Church. The ministerial priesthood has the task of representing Christ the Head of the Church before the whole assembly and also of acting in the name of the whole Church when offering to God the prayer of the Church. Deacons are ordained unto a ministry of service, but not to the priesthood. Deacons assist bishops and priests in the celebration of the sacred mysteries, in works of charity, in blessing marriages, in the proclamation of the Gospel, in administering baptism, and in presiding over funerals.
Besides Holy Orders some of us are called by God to become religious priests, brothers, and sisters. As a Religious we make a vow commitment just like marriage to serve Christ and the Church faithfully in community with others. The three principle vows that a Religious take are the vows of Chastity, Obedience, and Poverty.