The SIngle Lay Vocation
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Title: The single lay vocation
Author: Mesely Luis
Publication: Catholic Online
Word count: 700
What is vocation? The word ‘vocation’ often intimidates, frightens, or even repels if considered as just a “religious calling.” Vocation, which comes from the Latin word vocare, to call, vox, voice, is God’s unique invitation to individuals to freely respond to the way of the Gospel. This responding is a life-long process; we discover how we “are” our vocation as we journey through life led by the Spirit of the Gospel, for we do not “have” a vocation—we “are” a vocation, be it married, single, or religious. Incorporated into the Mystical Body of Christ, all the baptized are called to holiness in their particular vocation. The best way to fulfill our purpose in life, after having been created out of love is to love and be loved.
Jesus Christ professed the common vocation to be perfect: “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) This vocation unites us in Christ and in the Church, for the one chosen People of God have “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Ephesians 4:5). In the Church, all have obtained an equal privilege of faith through the justice of God. (2Peter1:1) The Church, comprised of Head and Members, delights in its zealous mission of cultivating the Lord’s bountiful garden.
Within the members of the Mystical Body of Christ, the laity is the largest group. It includes all of the faithful except those in Holy Orders or belonging to a religious state approved by the Church. The Fathers of Vatican Council II teach that the laity, as baptized members, is called to extend all of its energy for the growth of the Church and the sanctification of the temporal order. Christ himself commissioned the laymen and laywomen to apostolates of their own personal choice through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. (cf. Apostolicam actuositatem, No. 3)
The laity has the special vocation to seek the Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God’s will. (See Lumen Gentium) Jesus calls them to live in the world, to engage in work and business, and to contribute to the sanctification of the world by fulfilling their own particular duties by the Spirit of the Gospel. In this way they exercise Christ’s offices of priest, prophet, and king, through their intimate union with the Living Person Jesus Christ. The laity must aid one another to greater holiness of life even by their secular activity, and by their competence in the work field.
Single vocation means that each person has a unique mission in life and that is why it is called single. The word single [Lat. Singulus, single] means simple, unique. But it also means “unmarried.” Single men and women are called by God to serve the Church, the bride of Christ, to whom they are wedded from the moment they are baptized. Single vocation, therefore, means a unique call.
The Church needs lay Catholics who can dedicate themselves to their work and the spread of the Gospel while working in the world. Single laymen and laywomen have greater flexibility and time to do a variety of tasks and to help other families. Those who are called to live the single, celibate life should be encouraged and given moral support by the representatives of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, since every one is called to holiness. “What the soul is in the body, let Christians be in the world.” (Lumen Gentium, p. 396)
The Apostolic exhortation Christifideles laici confirms that the unmarried state of lay life is a courageous response of vocational action and a magnificent opportunity for apostolic expenditure, especially in the times, conditions, and circumstances of the post-modern era. The single lay person carries out his or her apostolate by virtue of his or her special vocational status, growing in intimate union with the Divine Spouse, Our Lord. God the Father placed before them the temporal means of His own sanctification: human labor.
Human labor serves men and women as both a natural and supernatural means to sustain and maintain themselves, contributing to God’s plan of salvation. “As each has received a gift, employ it for one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” (1 Pt 4:10).
Magdalen College - Visit www.magdalen.edu.
http://www.magdalen.edu NH, US
Mesely Luis - Development Assistant, 603 456-2656
Catholic Schools & Religious Education
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