Baptism is a vocation and call in itself and does not occur only “in the context of one of the vocations”. As long as one is not called to another state in life (priesthood, etc etc.) as a personal call, all documents and texts of The Church relating to the Laity spell out for us the duties of the lay state in life, celibate or married. Baptism is the gift of Supernatural Life and a call to embrace Jesus and His Gospel and The Church, and in service for the salvation of souls i.e. “for the sake of The Kingdom”. It could be said that Catholic Baptism is God’s sign that this person is thus called. Our Baptism did not occur as any sort of accident of fate as it were for no such thing exists, but because we were chosen by God – no matter when our baptism occurred, i.e. baby, child or adult. Baptism is the call to be a certain type of person and this is a journey that only concludes in Heaven. A personal vocation or call in life (marriage, priesthood, religious life, single life etc.) is to be that certain type of person (Baptismal foundation of all personal vocations) and to assume certain duties of that vocation and call as one’s particular and personal role in The Church – and in carrying out those duties to be that certain sort of person gifted with supernatural life, notably the theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Charity (Baptism) and the Gifts of The Holy Spirit :- Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Knowledge, Fortitude, Piety and Fear of The Lord (Confirmation). Our journey from Baptism onwards is ideally a continual growing into the perfection of that certain sort of person gifted with the theological and Gifts of The HolySpirit – a journey finally arriving at perfection only in Heaven. These virtues and gifts enable us in Grace to grow into another Christ. To live one’s actual life on earth and just as it is today, here and now - as if Jesus would have lived it – again perfected only in Heaven. No faithful Catholic is exempted from this quest, no matter their state and vocation in life.
In an ideal sense we are all in a state of discernment at all times (while openness to God is probably a better term though the two are used interchangeably in our Catholic culture/language). No matter our personal vocation and call from God in life, we ideally remain open and discerning of His Will in each and every moment of each and every day. With marriage, priesthood, religious life and consecrated life, much of this discernment is settled through the defined (by The Church) duties of these states in life and roles in The Church. With the lay celibate vocation per se and a unique state in life and vocation of its’ own, one remains open to a further call from God on all levels, and this might (or might not) be to marriage, priesthood, religious life or consecrated life. The duties of the lay person, married or celibate, are spelt out in Papal Exhortationon THE MISSION AND VOCATION OF THE LAY FAITHFUL IN THE CHURCH AND THE WORLD (Christifideles Laici) Certainly, if one has embraced lay celibacy as one’s personal vocation in life one has no sense whatsoever of being called anywhere else but to lay celibacy, while remaining open to the potential one could be called out of the lay state into another state in life. This is in the very nature of the vocation. This is not so much a perpetual discerning in a broad sense of discerning what is to be one’s personal vocation as a daily openness to God and His Will, no matter what it might be The Church does define the duties of the lay celibate vocation in all documents relating to the Laity – and these are very serious duties and responsibilities extensively laid out in the various Church documents.
If anything has failed, I think it is possibly catechisis/adult education and those who may be responsible for such in The Church. For many of us, we do arrive at a point in our adult lives when we can be our own educator insofar as the duties of our state may permit, especially with a computer and internet access and putting aside some time now and then - if we can and not all by far can do so in our modern life of many time demands and stress.
Part 2 follows - wordcount problem