Simply put, a vocation is a call from God. Regardless of our current vocational state (student, married, dating, in religious formation, single, etc), God calls each of us to holiness in our own unique way (CCC 825). It is up to each of us to follow wherever God is calling us each day. It is through these small acts of faith that we will be able make the big decisions in our lives and discern our vocation.
"Whoever opens his heart to Christ will not only understand the mystery of his own existence, but also that of his own vocation; he will bear the abundant fruit of grace."
~Pope John Paul II
SACRAMENT OF HOLY ORDERS
Holy Orders is one of two sacraments ordered to the service of the universal Church. Through it, the worship of God and the deposit of faith are safeguarded and transmitted down through history. The fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders is found in the episcopate, the office of bishop. The bishop participates in the authority and ministry of the first Apostles, and it is through them that the apostolic ministry continues. The sacerdotal ministries of the liturgy continues through the presbyterate, the priesthood, by a limited participation in the apostolic ministry of the bishop. The priest functions in and through the local bishop. Finally, we have the ministry of service, which is the diaconate. Permanent deacons are the only clergy who may be married in the Roman Catholic Church.
PROCESS OF VOCATION DISCERNMENT
Whenever a young man feels called to the priesthood, or a young woman to consecrated religious life, it is appropriate for them to contact their pastor. His guidance will be extremely beneficial to them. Married adult men (age 35 or older) should likewise contact the pastor for information on becoming ordained to the permanent diaconate. The process of discernment begins with the individual hearing and responding to what God is doing in his/her life.
Speaking with the pastor is the first step of truly discerning God's call. Developing an authentic prayer life, building relationships with others who have accepted the call into the priesthood or religious life, and growing in virtue are all steps to discovering what plans God has for your future. Get in touch not only with your pastor, but with the Archdiocesan Office of Vocations - www.houstonvocations.com - and/or the religious orders that you find appealing.