When people talk about “vocations,” they’re often talking about the priesthood and religious life (the life of monks and nuns, sisters and brothers). But priesthood and religious life are not the only vocations. Every one of us has a vocation....
Plumbers, homemakers, accountants, farmers, lawyers, cashiers, taxi drivers —we are called to many different jobs, but in those jobs we all have the same calling. We are all called to be priests.
As soon as we were baptized, we became priests of God. We don’t think about that very much, but we ought to think about it every day, every hour, every minute. Everything we do ought to be in the service of God, and everywhere we go we ought to remember that we are priests.
We’re so used to thinking of “priests” as the men who wear the collar that it almost shocks us to hear that we, too, are priests. But that’s a doctrine straight from Scripture. St. Peter himself, the first pope, calls us all to the priesthood in his first letter:
Come to him, a living stone, rejected by human beings but chosen and precious in the sight of God, and, like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:4-5)
So, in a sense, we all have the same vocation. We are all called to be holy, and we are all called to be priests of God. More than that, we are all called to be apostles. Our mission is the mission Jesus Christ gave to his disciples: to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations.
But we do have many different ways of living that vocation. Some of us will be celibate priests who wear collars, which is a great and noble vocation. Some of us will be garbage collectors, and that is another great and noble vocation.
Living a moral life is itself an act of worship. We glorify God when we live according to Christ’s teaching, putting ourselves forward as examples of Christian living, and drawing others to the truth by our example.
Wherever you do your daily work, there is your altar. There is where you offer sacrifice to God Most High. Your altar may be an assembly line, or a computer keyboard, or the strings of a violin, or a manure pile in a barn. Wherever you work, you can offer that work as a sacrifice to God. Even St. Paul, who counseled Christians to take good care of their ministers, worked as a tentmaker so that no one could accuse him getting a free ride (see Acts 18:2-3).
When we come together for Mass, all our sacrifices are bound together in the Eucharist. The one perfect sacrifice that Christ offers on the Cross sweeps up all our individual sacrifices and carries them to heaven.
And because our sacrifices are joined with the perfect sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, the sacrifices we make every day are themselves, in a way, Eucharistic. They’re part of that eternal perfect sacrifice.
Whatever our vocation, we find the complete fulfillment of it only in the Church, bringing our labors together with the labors of every other Christian.
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