Different levels of calling

I have heard this concept from time to time, but have never been taught the ins and outs. I was reminded by this thread, and thought I should try to understand it.

So the married life is a lower calling than consecrated virginity. I have also heard that Holy Orders is a higher calling than marriage. [LIST]
*]But is Holy Orders also higher than consecrated virginity?
*]Are there any higher callings?
*]What about non-consecrated virginity, where does that fit?
*]And are there any lower callings than married life?
*]Am I missing any callings that are somewhere in the middle?[/LIST]

The highest calling is holiness. Holiness means a decrease in sin and an increase in virtue. Holiness is the primary vocation for all people.

The four secondary vocations - matrimony, priesthood, religious life and the generous single life - these are ordered to help us attain the primary vocation of holiness.

There are many who are called to marriage and holy orders at the same time. These are married deacons and married priests. In their case their marriage comes first. Their marriage is a covenant and it took place before ordination. Any bishop will tell you that the marriage of his deacons comes before their ministry as a deacon.

the post cited seems to confuse celibacy with consecrated virginity. They are not the same.


Highest calling is not important. Answering the call is what matters.

John the Baptist, who Jesus said no one was greater than, still was no greater than the least in heaven.

Matthew 11:11

*Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.

And, because Christ tells us the least among us is the greatest, again, its not the call, but the fact that we answer any call from God.

Luke 9:46-48

And an argument arose among them as to which of them was the greatest. *But when Jesus perceived the thought of their hearts, he took a child and put him by his side, and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me; for he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”

Peace and all Good!.

I recommend The Theology of the Body.
No calling, vocation, is higher than another. When St. John Paul II writes about the Sacrament of Matrimony, he cites St. Paul and why St. Paul found the single state better. When a person marries, he/she is concerned about worldly matters, about pleasing his/her spouse. When you love somebody you sacrifice for the person you love.
If you are single, your heart is not divided, You can place all your focus on the things of God. You do not need to worry about providing for your family’s needs.
John of the Cross also talks about this preferred state of being single and celibate.
Keep in mind that Matrimony has been raised to the level of a Sacrament for a reason. Again neither being single nor married is superior to the other. Each calls for sacrificial love.

Digitonomy. You asked about our callings from God.

I explained some aspects here too (which may or may not be helpful).

TimothyH correctly stated that celibacy & consecrated virginity are not the same. Sorry if my post (that jump started the thread) caused confusion. Tim is right. (Thanks Tim)

Below are some items that may be of help in deepening your understanding this issue.

St. Thomas Aquinas states the following . . . .

ST. THOMAS AQUINAS (Summa Theologica; Section 2 Part 2, question 152)

Reply to Objection 1. Virgins are “the more honored portion of Christ’s flock,” and “their glory more sublime” in comparison with widows and married women.

Reply to Objection 2. The hundredfold fruit is ascribed to virginity, according to Jerome Ep. cxxiii ad Ageruch.], on account of its superiority to widowhood, to which the sixtyfold fruit is ascribed, and to marriage, to which is ascribed the thirtyfold fruit. But according to Augustine (De QQ. Evang. i, 9), “the hundredfold fruit is given to martyrs, the sixtyfold to virgins, and the thirtyfold to married persons.” Wherefore it does not follow that virginity is simply the greatest of virtues, but only in comparison with other degrees of chastity.

Reply to Objection 3. Virgins “follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth,” because they imitate Christ, by integrity not only of the mind but also of the flesh, as Augustine says (De Virgin. xxvii). Wherefore they follow the Lamb in more ways, but this does not imply that they follow more closely, because other virtues make us cleave to God more closely by imitation of the mind. The “new hymn” which virgins alone sing, is their joy at having preserved integrity of the flesh.

The Council of Trent also addresses this issue of extolling the state of virginity & celibacy.

SESSION 24 COUNCIL OF TRENT CANON X - If any one saith, that the marriage state is to be placed above the state of virginity, or of celibacy, and that it is not better and more blessed to remain in virginity, or in celibacy, than to be united in matrimony; let him be anathema.

Hope this is helpful.

God bless.


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