Rosetta Stone (Teaching Materials)

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. 

No Solo

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.

Vocation Today

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. 

The Bridegroom Says Come (Teaching Materials)

The following materials are from the “The Bridegroom Says Come” Life Teen Life Night guide.

So Many Options!

Like we have talked about this semester, in our semester on vocations, all of us have a universal call to holiness. We also all have a primary vocation – a state of life that we are called to move into as we walk towards God. For some of us, that vocation is marriage, for some men it will be priesthood or the diaconate, but there’s another vocation that sometimes gets overlooked. That vocation is the call to consecrated life.

What is the consecrated life? It can sound kind of dramatic or foreign – consecrated? We can start by defining the word consecrated. Think about where you have heard that word before. Some of you may have thought of the Mass, and you would be correct. The priest consecrates the bread and wine; the Eucharist is a consecrated host. Something that is consecrated is set apart and dedicated to God.

That’s what the consecrated life is all about. People in this vocation offer up their lives and dedicate them to God – and He transforms their lives into something beautiful and spectacular. The Church describes those in the consecrated life as people who, “while not entering into the hierarchical structure of the Church, belong undeniably to her life and holiness.” That means that although they are not part of the Church ‘structure’ (like bishops, priests, and deacons are), they are an important and integral part of the Church and its mission.

There are many ways that a person can live out a vocation to the consecrated life. Many people in this vocation live a ‘monastic’ lifestyle – they separate themselves from society and spend their lives in prayer.

Why would they do this? Our world can be a very noisy place, and thus, it can become difficult to hear the voice of God. These men and women have a calling to develop a special relationship with the Father through Christ. It is like the game we began with. If the two people who were drawing had continued to spend time together they would have gotten to know how the other person speaks and interacts so well that eventually the pictures could have been nearly identical. In the same way, people in the consecrated life draw close to God in order to hear His voice, and then communicate it back to the Church. For this reason, many of the greatest spiritual writers of the Church lived a consecrated life separated from the world.

There are different forms of consecrated life that all interact with the world in varying ways. Some groups are very active, and others are contemplative and choose to step out of the world to focus primarily on prayer.

The most removed group is hermits, who practice extreme solitude, silence, and penance. They are living examples of the being set apart for Christ and the power of prayer; they are prayer warriors of the church. Many times in Church history, God called people into the desert; for thousands of years, the desert has been where prayer warriors are found. Today, there are men and women in communities that live this separated life.

Another form of consecrated life, not quite as separate from the world as hermits, are consecrated virgins and widows. When a woman or man decides to become “committed to the holy plan of following Christ more closely,” they go before the bishop and are consecrated to God. They give their entire lives to God and they participate in a ‘mystical betrothal’ to Jesus Christ – they literally marry Him and give themselves to His service. They become an image of the Church – the Bride of Christ.
The form of consecrated life that you are most likely to recognize is religious life. That’s where we find brothers, sisters, and nuns who live the Apostolic religious life. The religious life is set apart because of its “liturgical character, public profession of the evangelical counsels, fraternal life led in common, and witness given to the union of Christ with the Church.” So what does it mean? Well, religious communities have a common rule of life – they all agree to live, pray, and act according to a set of rules. They also share a common dress – their official ‘uniform.’

Religious life is an important part of the Church, because it gives people who want to dedicate themselves to prayer and service a stable place to do that. They live simply, but by being in a religious community they can spend their lives serving the poor and still be provided for. They serve under the bishops to help with all sorts of things – in hospitals and schools, as missionaries and teachers, even working in administration within the Church. Those in religious life can range from living as hermits to mingling with lay people. A sister or nun may live in a cloister where she never has contact with the outside world (imagine that!), or she may work in a school where she teaches students every day.

Living the Narrow Path
People who wish to enter the consecrated life take vows, much like a priest or couple being married makes promises to serve in their vocation.

Anyone who ‘consecrates’ his or herself to God does it the same way: by professing a lifelong commitment to the three Evangelical Counsels. What are those? They are poverty, obedience, and chastity in celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom.

Persons living the consecrated life are called to poverty. That may mean that their community has possessions that everyone may use in common or even individually, but individual members don’t really own anything. Different degrees of consecrated life have differing extremes of poverty, but in all levels it is about having a heart that is not focusing on wealth. A vow of poverty isn’t saying “no” to possessions; it is saying “yes” to trust in God.

Obedience – one of our favorite words, right? Consecrated people profess obedience to those in authority over them. They may profess obedience to an abbot, a Mother Superior, or a bishop. They promise to pray and go where they are sent, serving those they are sent to well.

They also follow the counsel of chastity. For someone consecrated, that means they practice celibacy. The Church is specific in that it is celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom. They aren’t just giving up on marriage because they “can’t find someone” or “don’t want to get married;” it is so they can marry Christ. They aren’t abandoning marriage; they are choosing a special kind of relationship with Christ, instead.

These three commitments, poverty, obedience, and celibacy, may seem extreme, but they are ways a person called to the consecrated life lives out their call to holiness. They remove the temptations to lust, greed, and pride by choosing to practice celibacy, poverty, and obedience. These vows free them to serve God more fully, removing potential obstacles that might keep them from embracing His will.

People who live the vocation of consecrated life take what the Catechism calls ‘the narrower path’ to lead others to Christ. They live in anticipation of Christ’s coming, which is the “the origin and rising of their life.” Their lives are a reminder that God is coming back and that we wait in anxious, joyful anticipation of His return.

A Life Set Apart
In the modern, fast-paced world we live in, dedicating a life to prayer and service can seem crazy to some people – especially when it involves giving up marriage. Some people might ask, “Isn’t a life spent single lonely? Won’t you eventually just end up sad because you’ll never get married?”

Undoubtedly, a person in a consecrated life may get lonely. But sometimes a married person gets lonely, too, especially in times when a marriage may be struggling. Like that married person, an individual in the consecrated life would seek to increase communication with God and constantly renew their relationship, rather than running from it.

Remember, too, that most who life the vocation of consecrated life live in community; they are never really alone. They are part of a bigger family and are loved by their brothers and sisters in Christ in their particular order.

Those that the Lord calls to consecrated life live a joyful life of service and prayer. If you feel like this is a calling you want to explore further, begin to research different religious communities and different forms of consecrated life. Each one will have a vocations director (just like the diocese has one for priests) that you should get in touch with. Eventually, you may consider scheduling a weekend to see the community. Just like with all vocations, be open to where the Holy Spirit is calling you. Trust that if God is calling you to this vocation you will find a lasting joy and peace beyond what you may imagine.

Consecrated Today
You may still be thinking to yourself, “Nope, not for me.” While it is important that you still be open to whatever God may be calling you to, it is true that many of you will probably not be called to the consecrated life. But that doesn’t mean you can’t adopt some of the practices of the consecrated life. After all, we are all called to a deeper union with God – why not find ways to work on this union in your every day life?

One way to do that is to literally “set apart” a section of your room for a prayer space. Your room may be very messy and filled with a lot of things that represent your life. Clean up a corner and dedicate it to prayer. You may not always be able to make it to a chapel to pray, but having a place right in your room where you can go to pray and be with God is a great second-choice. Place things in your prayer corner like a bible, rosary, maybe a book by a Saint, a crucifix, and any other item that helps you pray. Spend time there every day if you can, simply being in the presence of God. Like someone who lives the consecrated life, you may find that the more you take time you pray the easier it is to see the picture God is creating for your life – and the easier it is to live out that plan.

Kicking Up Dust (Teaching Materials)

The following materials are from the “Kicking Up Dust” Life Teen Life Night guide.


Who Wants to Be Support Staff?
When was the last time you remember a nurse was praised for a successful heart transplant, or an administrative assistant being commended for record profits at a company? In all likelihood, you may have never heard those kinds of statements about those kinds of positions. They are humble positions of service that often seem overlooked, yet without them, a lot of things wouldn’t run smoothly. It is often the CEOs and surgeons who get a lot of credit for the work they do. But, it is those in supporting and serving roles that make it possible for the CEOs and surgeons to perform their jobs well. The service type jobs might not win people awards or recognition, but their role is tremendously vital.

We talked earlier this semester about the vocation of Holy Orders. There are three levels to this vocation: the episcopate (bishops), the presbyterate (priests), and the diaconate (deacons). We talked about the first two, and these are the figures most often associated with ministry within the Church hierarchy. But the third level, the diaconate, serves a tremendously vital role in the Church.

There is a lot to do in a parish, and just as priests serve as co-workers to the bishop, deacons serve as assistants to priests. A man becomes a deacon through ordination, the same way that a man is ordained a priest. The responsibilities of a deacon are different than that of a priest or bishop, however. While a priest has the focus of spreading the Gospel and connecting us to the sacraments, a deacon focuses on charitable service – in other words, helping the community they serve within.

The Church describes the role of the deacon as one who “assists in the celebration of the Divine mysteries…and dedicating themselves to the various ministries of charity.” This call to celebrate the Divine mysteries and serve others in charity (love) is lived out in several ways:

The first way is by assisting with and administering the Sacrament of Baptism. You might have seen a family getting their child baptized. Many times in parish life, a deacon will administer the Sacrament of Baptism because a priest may be busy with other responsibilities. Since baptism is the gateway to all the other sacraments, the deacon provides an important ministry in being able to baptize.

The deacon also assists at Mass with the celebration of Eucharist. Although deacons cannot consecrate the bread and wine, they do have particular assisting roles in the Mass. You may have noticed them asking us to share the sign of peace or holding up the Body and Blood of Christ along with the priest. They also serve as Eucharistic Ministers. They are called Ordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, because they (along with priests and bishops) are the first in line to distribute Communion. That is why you will always see deacons helping at Communion – it is in their job description. Deacons can also distribute the Eucharist at ‘communion services’ when it is not possible to have Mass.

That’s not all a deacon does at Mass, though. Deacons can also proclaim the Gospel and preach homilies – they are the only ones who aren’t priests that can do that. So, you will often see the deacon walk over to the priest, who prays over him, and then walk to the ambo to proclaim the Gospel.

Deacons can also preside at funerals that are not Masses. They can witness the Sacrament of Matrimony.

We know that Jesus Christ instituted the priesthood that we know today at the Last Supper with the disciples, so when and where did the diaconate come from? The Church began with the twelve Apostles; they were the original bishops and oversaw the administration of the sacraments in the early Church, teaching the faith, and serving the poor. As the Church grew, they realized that they were being stretched thin, finding themselves choosing between administering the Word and sacraments or serving the poor. Deciding that it would not be right for them to abandon their preaching, they appointed “helpers” to serve other functions in the Church. One of these assistants was St. Stephen, who became the first martyr of the Church.

From then on the role of the deacon (which comes from a Greek word diakonos that means “servant”) was to assist the priests and serve in their community. In the Church today, you will find two kinds of deacons. There are “transitional deacons” and “permanent deacons.”

Transitional deacons are seminarians – men who are studying for the priesthood. In the last year of their study, those men are ordained into the ‘transitional’ diaconate. They will spend their time as deacons helping with Mass and other sacraments, and getting even more familiar with what the life of a priest is like. Don’t think of this like an internship or student teaching job for the priesthood. The transitional deacon makes promises to celibacy and obedience, and they are permanent promises. After a year of serving as a transitional deacon and with the permission of the bishop, he may be ordained a priest.

A permanent deacon is a man who feels called to the vocation of Holy Orders, but not as a priest. He will go to school part-time studying theology and learning how to serve as a minister before he is ordained a deacon. During that time, he grows in the same four areas that a seminarian would: intellectually, spiritually, pastorally, and as a man of God. Permanent deacons can also be married (but once ordained cannot get married or remarried if their spouse dies); if that is the case, their wives also go to these formation classes with them and grow spiritually as well.

Once they are ordained, a permanent deacon can fulfill a variety of roles in a parish. They assist at Masses, administer the Sacrament of Baptism, preside at funeral services, and witness marriages. A deacon may be employed full time for a parish, or simply volunteer there and work another full-time job outside of the parish. Permanent deacons may work in counseling or other ministries to help spread the Gospel to people of their parishes or perform important areas of ministry within a parish as religious educators, advocates of social justice, and as leaders of RCIA programs.

Above all else, a deacon lives a life in humble service to the Church. They are obedient to the priest that they serve under, and they are called to preach the Gospel with their words and with their actions.

A Life of Service – A Model For Us
If you want to be ordained a permanent deacon, you must be a male who is at least 35 years old. So, if any of you young men feel a tug towards the permanent diaconate now, know that the discernment period will be a while. Regardless of whether this particular vocation lies in our future, we can all imitate the calling of this vocation in our own lives, since it ties into our universal calling as well: the call to serve.

The word “deacon” comes from the Greek word “diakonos” which is translated “servant,” but literally means “through dust.” Deacons were seen as people so ambitious to serve that they would “kick up dust” as they ran to assist others. How joyfully do we serve? Do we “run” to the nearest occasion to serve, even if we won’t be recognized?

There won’t always be an “awards show” to recognize you for the good that you do. We are called to serve joyfully, anyway. A deacon may often be overlooked within the Church hierarchy, but without his assistance in a parish there would be a lot left undone. Every day there are hundreds of opportunities for you to love and serve others, but if you don’t act they won’t happen. Your school, home, and job would be a much different place if your attitude changed from “somebody else will do it,” to “how can I serve today?”

At its core, that is what the diaconate is all about–service. It is a lesson that we can all learn..

Having the attitude of “how I can serve,” rather than “ how can I be served” will help you prepare for whatever vocation you are called to, whether it be marriage, Holy Orders, consecrated or single life as well. May we all be like the deacons and “kick up the dust” around us.


Discussion questions:

  • What did you learn about the role of deacons in the Church?
  • How have you seen the deacon at our parish serve in these ways?
  • What are some ways that you can model that servanthood at home? At school? At church?

Persona Christi (Teaching Materials)

The following materials are from the “Persona Christi” Life Teen Life Night guide.


A priest receives the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Holy Orders, as you may remember, is one of the four vocations a person can have. The other three are marriage, consecrated life, and committed single life. Like all vocations, Holy Orders is rooted in our universal vocation: God’s call to everyone to be holy; to love God and to love our neighbor. 

A man who lives out the vocation of Holy Orders directs his entire life toward the salvation of others. His mission is the same as the Church; his goal is to get every person to heaven and to continually build up the People of God on earth. Jesus, himself, gave this special mission to the Church; it is carried out continuously by the power of the Holy Spirit and through the vocation of Holy Orders.

There are three levels to the vocation of Holy Orders. These three are the episcopate (bishops), the presbyterate (priest), and the diaconate (deacons). each level serves a specific purpose and is obedient to the level above it. We are going to talk specifically about bishops and priests at this Life Night; deacons also receive Holy Orders, but they live it out in a way different from bishops and priests. We will give them a Life Night all their own.

Bishops and priests share many things in common; in fact, every bishop is a priest (although not every priest is a bishop). They are both called to “feed the Church by Word and by the grace of God.” This means that they hold a special responsibility to preach the Gospel and celebrate the Sacraments. Bishops and priests are both “ordained” into their ministry. “Ordination” happens as part of the Sacrament of Holy Orders; it is an action that sets a man apart for the priesthood. When a priest is ordained he makes vows of obedience to his bishop and celibacy; he commits his whole life to the service of Christ and the Church. A priest from a religious order also makes a vow of poverty. These vows represent the sacrifices a man is making in order to serve Christ and the Church selflessly, just the same way a husband and wife promise to love each other selflessly in marriage.

During the ordination rite, a bishop lays hands on the man who wishes to become a priest and asks that he be given the gifts of the Holy Spirit. This sacrament brings a man into Holy Orders. This Tradition goes all the way back to the apostles at the beginning of the Church.

At the Last Supper, Jesus began the priesthood of the New Covenant with the apostles who had gathered there. He did this so they could be a visible sign of the Church and could continue to carry out his ministry. He commands them to celebrate the eucharist. At his Ascension, he commands them to baptize others and create more disciples. Once they receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, they go out to preach the Good News of Jesus. This began the ministry of Word and Sacrament. As the Church grew, the disciples set apart, or “ordained” more men to serve in the ministry. They did this by laying hands on them and asking God for the same gifts of the Holy Spirit they had received. This has continued at the ordination of every priest and bishop. They can trace their ordination back to the Last Supper, when Jesus gave the eucharist to the disciples. That’s pretty amazing.

It is because of this ordination that bishops and priests are able to stand in the place of Christ for us. In Latin, we say that they are acting in persona Christi capitas, or “as Christ the Head of the Church.” This means that when a bishop or priest is celebrating the sacraments, it isn’t the priest who is performing the sacrament, it is Christ acting through him. This service is wholly dependent on Christ and not the person; that is how powerful the Sacrament of Holy Orders is. 

When God calls men to this vocation this is what He is calling them to— a life of service by acting in the place of Jesus Christ, the Son, in order to serve the people of God and help them get to heaven.

Some men who become priests will be called to God to serve as bishops. It is important for anyone who is discerning Holy Orders to realize that the priesthood does not work like a “career.” Just because you serve as priest does not mean you will become a bishop. The Holy Spirit guides the Church in selecting men for this level of the vocation.

If a man is called to be a bishop, his vocation grows from serving a parish, to having teaching authority and “rule” over an entire area. We call this area a “diocese.” The bishop serves his vocation as a living apostle for the Church. He serves the Church by making sure things that are being taught in the diocese are in line with Church teaching, calling new men to the priesthood and ordaining them, and guiding the direction of all the parishes in unity by acting as their “shepherd.” He also is called to act as the unified voice of the Catholic Church in that area. Bishops will often stand in the public arena and fight for the Truths that the Catholic Church teaches and for the salvation of all people. This is in addition to celebrating the sacraments of the Church, managing employees, making sure the diocese is taking care of its money, etc. 

A bishop also participates in a “college” of bishops. This community of bishops helps makes decisions for the entire Church, and provides special guidance for the country that those bishops reside in. Bishops serve in a variety of ways, and it is a lot of work. Thankfully, they have some co-workers to help. 

A priest lives out his vocation to Holy Orders by serving, in obedience, as a co- worker for the bishop of his diocese. Since the bishop cannot be at every parish, the priest is given authority by the bishop to preach the gospel, celebrate the sacraments, and (you guessed it) lead the People of God towards heaven. A priest draws his strength from celebrating the mass; this is also when he exercises the greatest aspect of his vocation. At mass, he stands in place of Christ so that we can all celebrate the eucharist. 


Discussion questions:

  • How would you explain the importance of the priesthood to a non-Catholic?
  • How has a Priest made a positive difference in your life, personally?
  • What are some questions you still have about the priesthood?
  • What are some ways you can discern your own vocation right now?