Is there any place for me in the Church?


#1

I was baptized Catholic as a baby and am now divorced with an annulment. Our parish sent out a handout stating the 3 vocations of the Church which are:

  1. Marriage
  2. Ordained Vocation (ex. priest)
  3. Consecrated Vocation (consecrated laity I believe)

I do not belong to any of them. I always felt like I had been called to marriage but obviously I was wrong. I did not know life would turn out the way it did and now I feel sad and lonely, partly because I am alone, and partly because I do not feel I have lived up to my potential to do God’s will. I do not feel like I would be able to commit to a consecrated vocation because I am not that good of a person. Is this what it means to feel like you’ve “missed your calling in life?”


#2

Sure there is.

We are all called to holiness. By virtue of your baptism you have a place in the church.

You may not be married, ordained, or consecrated, but you are still called to live a holy life. That is your calling in life.

Why? Are there people who tell you that you don’t belong?


#3

I am sorry to read that you are having the experiences that you are. Feelings can come and go quite spontaneously without being chosen - according to one’s psychology or physiology. Very often we do not choose what we feel. We do choose, however, how to respond to what we might feel. Spiritual direction would help you to sort out what you are feeling and why.

We cannot miss out on our vocation and call from God. The moment we are baptised we have a vocation and call to The Gospel and holiness -

Christifideles Laici (**Vocation **and Miission of The Laity):

w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-ii_exh_30121988_christifideles-laici.html

If I am in the lay state, then that is the road for my journey to holiness in following The Gospel. There might be a second call and vocation after Baptism (e.g. priesthood, consecrated life) that road to take to holiness. It is not a command, it is an invitation. If we choose some other vocation, in His Divine Providence God will be right there with us in every way in our journey to holiness. It is a question of response, our response to Him in the state of life in which we journey.

If the state of life I am in is not at all fulfilling, it is not that I have chosen the wrong vocation (although that is a common misunderstanding of vocation) - it is a matter to be addressed by spiritual direction or a psychologist … or both. One can start out with speaking to a spiritual director - perhaps a parish priest might be a good starting point.

Putting things on a theological level. There is no mortal sin in not accepting God’s Invitation to a certain vocational path, therefore God in no way (not even slightly) abandons a person to a life of unhappiness or lack of fulfilment.

If I feel I have not taken up God’s Invitation and my life is unhappy and unfulfilled, I should speak with a spiritual director or even a psychologist. A visit to a spiritual director, or series of visits, will identify whether I need a psychologist or both.

I do not feel like I would be able to commit to a consecrated vocation because I am not that good of a person.

Re reading your post the above sentence leapt out at me. I really do think you need to speak with a spiritual director. We not only have great saints who started out great sinners, there are absolutely heaps of persons who have entered Holy Orders or the consecrated life who felt strongly they were not good enough.

It is a normal and natural type of feeling since no person whatsoever is good enough to even be called to Baptism and have a relationship with God (which we all can have) let alone to receive a special call from Him. It is the call that is special.

.


#4

As a child of God you have a place in his Church. We are all called to service in different ways. You do not have to be Ordained, Consecrated, or even married to serve God. You serve God by your daily activities of living a good Christian life.


#5

Most laity are not consecrated, FWIW.


#6

There is such a thing as a single vocation.


#7

Thank you. No one told me I don’t belong. I just feel like I don’t fit into any of those three categories. I will just continue to do the best I can.


#8

Thank you very much for your detailed response. I did not understand vocations this way, as an invitation. I really appreciate you taking the time to explain things. I think I will have to talk to my priest at some point and see if he can help me make some decisions for my future. Also thank you for the link.


#9

:thumbsup: Prayer for your journey, please say one for me and all. :slight_smile:


#10

Thank you all for your responses. I guess I did not understand what a vocation was. I know as a baptized Catholic, we are called to live a holy life. But I thought that you had to live that life as one of the three vocations that were listed. The single life was not on the list.

It seems to me that if a vocation is an invitation, then it would be best to say yes to that invitation by God. I thought I had, but maybe I made a mistake. I will have to speak to my priest at some point for more guidance.


#11

Right now you happen to be single. As Clear Water said, to be single is a vocation. You can reach holiness and happiness with the single vocation. That does not mean you are going to be called to be single forever. You may one day remarry. Yes, talk to your priest.

That pamphlet was misleading. Single life is a vocation, for some temporary, for some permanent but it does not make someone “second class”.


#12

If one has any sort of problem understanding their vocation (that road one is to take to holiness: Holy Orders, Consecrated Life, Marriage, Single Life) the best and wisest move is to consult a spiritual director.

One might be called to the single life (celibacy in the laity) on a temporary basis or it might be permanent as has been said. As long as one is in the single state of life, there is a potential to be called to another state of life - even if initially one thought the single life would be permanent. Also, even if one has made private vows to and in the single state of life - one remains open to a call to another celibate state, if one has made a private vow to celibacy or chastity. One can be dispensed from that private vow if one discerns a call to marriage (non celibate state).
Canon Law covers it all under “Vows”

Openness to a vocation and call to another state of life is intrinsic to the single state of life or the celibate state in the laity. This does not mean at all that there is no real commitment to the laity and the lay celibate state.

The Laity as has been stated is not a second class type of vocation. It is an important and valuable state of life in itself and it can be the road to holiness and sanctity. The Church has called the lay state the “the front lines of The Church” (see Christifideles Laici previous quoted)* "At the same time it insisted on the unique character of their [lay] vocation, which is in a special way to “seek the Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and ordering them according to the plan of God”*
I think that Christifideles Laici is a very important document for the laity to read, along with Lumen Gentium if one really wants to take one’s vocation to the laity seriously and understand what The Church has to state about the Laity as a vocation and call from God.

Pope Benedict pointed out that spiritual direction is not only for the priesthood or consecrated life, it is also for the laity: zenit.org/articles/pope-recommends-spiritual-direction-to-everyone/


If ever asked, I always advise anyone considering a vocation to the lay celibate state as their particular role and vocation in life to seek spiritual direction and on an ongoing basis.

.


#13

Sometimes people can be very insensitive without meaning to be and that includes badly worded pamphlets.


#14

There are so many ways we can serve God in our parish. I help with the candles, lead the Rosary at times. Have several Holy Hours a week and Sub for others, When I was younger I taught CCD for 20 years and helped with the festivals. etc. Be there for friends and family. Evangelize when possible. Father will help you “find your place”. You are in my prayers. There is a real place for all of us in Christ’s Church. God Bless, Memaw


#15

:thumbsup: Good advice from Memaw.

Look into your own circumstances, polki, and what you can and perhaps cannot do in the parish including in your own family and friends…your workplace, or perhaps your campus, your neighbourhood…wherever and whatever. We probably preach the Gospel loudest by the person we are and at all times and everywhere we go. St Francis of Assisi said: “Preach The Gospel, with words if necessary”.

Most of all, as you stated: “I will have to talk to my priest at some point and see if he can help me make some decisions for my future.” This is most important of all!

God bless your searching, your journey, and prayer for you…Barb:)

.


#16

As someone who also does not fit well into other people’s neatly ordered categories I say make your own place in the Church. Read all you can about the saints and you will see a collection of the world’s misfits.


#17

The single life is generally not spoken of as a capital V Vocation because it is not a sacramental end state. A single person may, at any time, feel called to the religious life or to marriage, and act on it. So “singleness” is more of a state in life, than an end-state vocation.

Of course it is true that many people called to marriage may not find an appropriate spouse, and people called to religious life may have issues that prevent them achieving it. Others perhaps feel no compelling calling and remain single.

That doesn’t make single people any less worthy in the eyes of God, or less a part of the Church.

It’s simply that a single person who meets Mr. or Ms. right, and choose to marry, or feels called and joins the priesthood or religious life is not abandoning a vocation in the way a married person or religious who leaves their state of life is.

Hope that helps. God Bless!

Bilop


#18

The Papal Document, Christifideles Laici, is translated “**Vocation **and Mission of The Laity”

The single life is generally not spoken of as a capital V Vocation because it is not a sacramental end state. A single person may, at any time, feel called to the religious life or to marriage, and act on it. So “singleness” is more of a state in life, than an end-state vocation.

The lay state of life is a state of life just as the various consecrated lives are states in life as is Holy Orders and marriage. Single life is the lay celibate state of life. Consecrated life is not a Sacramental state of life - only Holy Orders and Marriage are sacramental.

Vita Consecrata “The Consecrated Life”: “The equal dignity of all members of the Church is the work of the Spirit, is rooted in Baptism and Confirmation and is strengthened by the Eucharist. But diversity is also a work of the Spirit. It is he who establishes the Church as an organic communion in the diversity of vocations, charisms and ministries.
The vocations to the lay life, to the ordained ministry and to the consecrated life”

Lumen Gentium “Dogmatic Constitution on The Church”: "in so doing, they stand as the witnesses and cooperators in the fruitfulness of Holy Mother Church; by such lives, they are a sign and a participation in that very love, with which Christ loved His Bride and for which He delivered Himself up for her.(11*) A like example, but one given in a different way, is that offered by widows and single people, who are able to make great contributions toward holiness and apostolic endeavor in the Church…

…throughout history the Church has fostered a celibate life in the lay state. Towering among the means of sanctity available to the laity, declared the Second Vatican Council, “is that precious gift of divine grace given to some by the Father to devote themselves to God alone more easily with an undivided heart in virginity or celibacy. This perfect continence for love of the kingdom of heaven has always been held in high esteem by the Church as a sign and stimulus of love, and as a singular source of spiritual fertility in the world”

The Church nor Catholic Theology has never used the Big V and small v distinction anywhere at all. It is something that has crept into Catholic cultural consciousness from somewhere or other.

Of course it is true that many people called to marriage may not find an appropriate spouse, and people called to religious life may have issues that prevent them achieving it. Others perhaps feel no compelling calling and remain single.

That doesn’t make single people any less worthy in the eyes of God, or less a part of the Church.

The above is inaccurate in that God could invite a person to remain in the lay state of life in the secular state and temporal order. Every single baptised person has a vocation and calling since baptism itself is a call from God to holiness and to The Gospel.

I certainly did feel a “compelling call” to remain single living a specific way of life. Back then over 40 years ago, I found this quite confusing; however, research with two priest theologians informed me that it could be a call to a vocation from God. In 2014 my Archbishop gave permission for a Home Mass for me to renew life private vows. I had already lived the specific way of life for over 30 years under private vows.

It’s simply that a single person who meets Mr. or Ms. right, and choose to marry, or feels called and joins the priesthood or religious life is not abandoning a vocation in the way a married person or religious who leaves their state of life is.

The above does not make sense. The Church provides for those in all the various vocations to leave that vocation quite legitimately. I think the only exception might be consecrated virgins, although I am unsure on that point. With the Sacrament of Marriage, The Church does not recognise divorce, however She does recognise legitimate separation under certain circumstances. There is also of course annulment for certain marriages only. Annulment means there was no valid marriage in the first place.

Since “all things are possible to God”, I do not think it inconceivable that God could call a person to a certain state in life for a limited period, while the person at the time may not realise this.


#19

Very well said :slight_smile:


#20

I am going to ask my priest why being single isn’t listed on there. It seems like it should be listed, and also explained, like you did, that it can be temporary or permanent.


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