The following materials are from the “Rosetta Stone” Life Teen Life Night guide.
Sometimes when we hear about our universal vocation—the call to holiness—it sounds to us like an unknown language. Although the phrase “universal call to holiness” is in a language we know and understand, the whole concept may still seem foreign. even after this semester on vocations, you may still be asking yourself what it means to live out a call to holiness.
One thing that is wonderful about the Church is that it can take things that seem foreign and make them familiar. Being holy can seem like something really foreign or difficult; it seems like something that is going to take up a bunch of our time. But being holy isn’t about checking off tasks on a Catholic to-do list; being holy is something that should be the foundation of everything we do. You can be holy when you are doing schoolwork, are out with your friends, playing sports or music, or spending time with your family.
Another way to think of this vocational foundation is to remember that our call to holiness is also a call is to love. We are called to love God and to love our neighbor. This is why holiness can be a part of everything we do; if we are really loving God and those people around us we are going to be moved to act.
Whether it is our love for our parents, our boyfriend/girlfriend, or God – love moves us into action. You don’t fall for someone and then nothing else happens. In a similar fashion, our love of God pushes us to know God and live his commands.
St. Augustine talks about the relationship between knowing and loving God in his Confessions. He asks, “Who can call on you that does not know you?” We know God so that we can love God. God loves us unconditionally – that’s one of the most basic parts of our faith. But we are called to love back: to use that knowledge of God, who He is, and what He’s done for us to deepen our love for Him. Although knowing God may make us live in ‘awe’ or ‘respect’ of God, love is what makes us give ourselves in service. It is what helps us follow the commands of God and ultimately follow His will. This desire to serve God will spill over into the relationships with those around us. In order to see how, we only need to look at our greatest example – Jesus.
Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man, and He was able to show us what this loving discipleship looks like. He brought all around Him to God by sharing the love that he had with the father. Not only that, He demonstrated that love through service and humility. Christ, before He died, washed the disciples’ feet. He literally got down as low as He could to clean the feet of those who followed Him.
God is always giving us opportunities to draw closer to Him – to answer the call to holiness. The sacraments are the chief ways to grow our relationship to Him. We gain tremendous grace through the eucharist, and Reconciliation eliminates those stumbling blocks that keep us from Him. even our most basic prayer, the ‘Our father,’ asks God to ‘forgive us our trespasses’ and ‘give us this day our daily bread.” Those are the two steps we can – and should – take every day to answer our call to holiness.
As we imitate Christ, we are able take on the spirit of self-gift. That giving of self starts with giving our lives to God, trusting in His care and His plan. A spirit of gift quickly grows, though, to embrace the Christ that we see in our brothers and sisters on earth.
Our faith is not designed to be lived out in a vacuum. All of humanity is called into the family of the Church – everyone is invited into the Catholic family. God made, knows, and loves all people; no one is designed to live outside the Kingdom. every person has a unique way that they live out their universal call to holiness. This is our primary vocation. every one of these vocations is important in the life of the Church; it is necessary for your continued journey to heaven. God has given you special graces for your vocation that other people do not have. In the same way, there are graces God has given to other people for their vocation that you do not have. This variety is good within the Church; if everyone went out into the desert to live a consecrated life, who would spread the Gospel in the secular world? If everyone was married, we would not have people who gave themselves entirely to service, and we would not have a priesthood to bring us the sacraments. Every role is necessary.
At the heart of vocation, though, is the call to love God and all people. Our families, our siblings, our coworkers, classmates, and romantic interests…loving them can be an investment. We also have to love those other people in whom it is hard to see Christ, hard to love. It requires giving of ourselves to love them. Love, at its heart, is sacrificial; it means, “You’re so important to me that I’m willing to put you before myself.” When we tap into that, we tap into the heart of our universal vocation.
Love One Another
God’s commandment to us is simple – He says in the Gospel of John, “Love one another as I have loved you.” If you needed any one instruction to explain how to answer the call to holiness, that would be it. God loves us by pouring grace and peace on us, but also by calling us away from sin and welcoming us back into the Kingdom after we fall. He gives everything for us – even dying on the Cross – and is faithful to us when we ask for him. He invites every person into His family, no matter how perfect or broken, rich or poor, popular or hated they are.
That is the love we’re called to imitate in our call to holiness. Not perfectly, not without fault or failure, but it is what we are called to try to do. The more we strive to love God and love our neighbor, the holier we will find ourselves becoming. Love creates more love; the grace of drawing close to God gives us the strength to love in even more difficult or hard situations.
We have talked a lot about vocation these past few months. Although you can be sure of your universal vocation, you probably still have questions about your specific vocation. There’s nothing wrong with that; you have time to discern where God is calling you. Nevertheless, do not put discernment off. If you feel a very strong call to the religious life, talk to our diocesan vocations director. If you feel a call to marriage, make sure your relationships are holy and Christ-centered so that you can discern with a clear mind and conscience. No matter what your vocation is, the way to live it right now is to grow in holiness and to listen to God. Get a spiritual director, start journaling about what God tells you about vocation, and dedicate yourself to prayer. make mass on Sunday a priority, regardless of how busy your week is. If possible, try to even get to mass daily.
As you discern your future vocation, remember this – you have a vocation right now: to be a witness of God’s love to the people you see every day. do not get so focused on the future that you aren’t able to live out your call right now. Be holy, be His, and be the light that shines in the darkness. You never know who might see your witness and get inspired to start living their vocation.