Following our vocation in life entails establishing and following God’s plan. In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells us: “I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) This means engaging with humanity in its fullest – in the physical, psychological and spiritual facets of our nature. Contrary to being closed off to life, following one’s vocation presents the full spectrum of openness, the sense of adventure of living and exploring life at its deepest levels, the sharing together in life’s experiences and pursuing the ideals that are at the heart of our existence and the continuous quest of building a better world. Just like in areas like sport or arts, commitment involves some sacrifice. But sacrifice is not unique to religious life; it is not reserved only to priests, nuns or brothers. While the sacrifices of those in religious life may be different, sacrifice is also found in other walks of life.
A couple at marriage make a lifelong commitment of support and fidelity to each other. Although each retain all of their individual nature the couple are joined in an exclusive relationship to each other for life. The two become a single entity, each retaining their individual contributing characteristics and abilities that build and sustain their relationship.
They make a commitment to family life, to the welfare or each other and to their children. Often the more visible sacrifice of married couples can be seen in their love and dedication to their children that lasts all through life.
Some people lead a single life, either through their individual choice or circumstances. Often this choice is centred on commitment to a particular cause or way of life. The complete dedication of single people to their specific cause(s) overrides alternative choices. In this way single life can provide the fulfilment of participating in God’s plans for humanity. The sacrifices of single life often involve time spent in solitude, and commitment to a particular cause or ideal.
Religious life goes beyond personal choice and arises from a willingness to devote oneself entirely to discipleship. It entails sacrifice of material gain, foregoing career advancement and subjugation of personal ambition. A range of options enable people to devote their lives to the service of God. These include religious orders for men and women – such as the Jesuits (SJ), Franciscans (OFM), Dominicans (OP), Carmelites (O. Carm). There is also the diocesan priesthood or diaconate working alongside the bishop in a diocese.