How connected are one's occupation and vocation?

Hello CAFers,

I have thought about this for a long time. To what extent do you believe one’s occupation and vocation are interlocked? I am currently a 19-year-old college girl discerning my vocation (missionary nun or marriage). However, since I have not determined my vocation, I feel like I can’t pick a profession. I am currently double majoring in computer science and chemistry, as they interest me. I feel like if I discern into the religious life, I am better off becoming a nurse or a doctor to help with missions. If I become a wife and mother, I am better off continuing with technology and launching my own business. I find a lot of things interesting, but nothing seems quite right. I feel like picking a profession is almost purposeless unless I have a vocational meaning behind it. What are your experiences and/or thoughts? Thank you!

  • SnowAngels

I think you’re onto something, but I don’t think knowing you vocation first matters. And you profession may change. Personally, I look at profession as a vocation within a vocation. Some people know they are called to teach before the know if it’s as a lay person or as a religious, or they want to be a nurse and finding their vocation as a missionary nurse later. Others are the opposite and know they want to have a family or be a religious before knowing how that vocation will play out professionally. I’d say right now, study what you have a passion for, and follow your heart. Pray on it, and if possible find a spiritual director. You don’t have to have the answers now, and most college students change their majors at least a couple times as they learn more and more about themselves. A nursing or medical career is a great choice for a mother too. Go where you’re heart is tugging you. Tugging at the heart can be one of the subtle ways Jesus calls us to where we should be.

Do what interests you. You can be a missionary with no medical training. You could teach science and help remote communities with technology if you go that route!

Some of the hardest times of discernment in vocation (or profession) aren’t in not knowing what to do, but wanting to do too many things. One life doesn’t seem to be enough.

I think you could make either profession work in either vocation.

A holy priest once said, “In the spiritual life EVERYTHING is important, your thoughts, actions, career, words, prayers, hobbies, adventures, rest,…” (Everything).

St Paul wrote in the Bible, “Whatever you do, even if it’s eating or drinking, do for God’s glory.”

Every good thing you do, however inconsequential points others to God, who is the source of all good things.

The first vocation is the call to holiness (says the catechism).

And secondary to this, your duties and responsibilities / talents/ hobbies on earth do help you as tools to reach the Heavenly Kingdom, and to help spread the Heavenly Kingdom on earth,.

God needs all the different careers on earth to keep society running, farmers, shopkeepers, hotel owners, singers, teachers, taxi drivers, etc.

I read of a holy woman whose mission on earth was to intercede for the souls in purgatory, and she said that whenever Our Lady allowed her to view a soul from purgatory, she always saw them wearing their working clothes from their career, (because their career on earth was their earthly mission from God).

What about people that have no career though? They have no mission from God? :blush:

I think ones vocation is always more important than ones “career.” We must work harder at our vocation than a career.

Having no career doesn’t mean no mission. Whatever happens in your daily routine is your mission to be Jesus Presence in those things.

Your mission is your daily duties and responsibilities and obligations at each stage and day of your life,
This can change daily, eg; someone goes through school, to college, gains work as a lawyer, retires permanently from work to be a stay at home house wife, then goes back working part time later in life in a different career, them retires,
(at each stage of our lives are completely different daily obligations and duties to those God puts in our path that day :slight_smile:

This is an interesting question.

When I was a kid, I’d hear Catholic people (mostly my relatives, I’m sure) speak of a person’s career as their “vocation” and mean it in a religious sense. For a long time as a kid, therefore, when I’d hear the phrase “he missed his calling” I’d take it fairly literally, i.e., we have a calling to some occupation.

Indeed, I recall one of my uncles telling me, with obvious skepticism about it, that he’d been taught by his nun teachers as a kid that everyone had that type of calling.

I haven’t heard that maintained for years and years, and I doubt that was ever anywhere near being the teaching of the church. Now, what I’ll hear on what our diocese dedicates for a vocations Sunday a pitch for the young to consider Priestly vocations (I virtually never hear one for the convents), with it being mentioned as an aside that marriage is also a vocation. I grant that it is a vocation.

Anyhow, having really missed the boat in my secular vocation, I often wonder to what extent the Divine directs us average in any such direction. I certainly grant that there must be some people who truly are called to particular vocations of a secular nature, but I wonder to what extent that’s true of the rest of us.

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