Personality and vocation



It’s interesting that - in sum - there are basically four states of life in the Church:

Active (friars, canons, clerics regular, diocesan priests, permanent deacons)
Contemplative (monks)
Celibate Laity (via personal choice or because of same-sex attractions)

I once heard it said that a naturally-introverted person would do well as an Active, like a conventual Franciscan, and a naturally-extroverted person would do well as a contemplative, like a Carthusian. This advice seemed very paradoxical, yet makes sense.

So, who should become an active religious? Who should become a contemplative monastic? Who should remain simply celibate and lay? Who should seek marriage? Are all promptings merely individual, private, and personal in the context of each life, or are there general personality traits that tend toward one or the other?


I would say that personality traits have something to do with one’s vocation, obviously. God gives us gifts to carry out our vocation, and sometimes our personality traits reflect what he has given us. However, I don’t think there’s any kind of one-to-one correspondence between this or that personality type and the sort of life which might constitute their vocation. Here in the seminary there are 200 men of all sorts of personality types–introverted and extroverted, more logical or analytical and more intuitive types. Ultimately God gives you the gifts and the grace to fulfill the calling he has for you, and that’s part of discernment–figuring out what it is he’s giving you. From there you discern what he’s calling you to and eventually how you might apply those gifts to your calling. One could be very extroverted and sociable and yet called to the monastic or eremitic life, and one could be rather introverted and otherwise interiorly oriented and make an incredible diocesan priest.





What exactly is the lay-celibate life, in its vocation? This person is neither monk, nor friar, nor priest, nor spouse. He receives neither of the two “vocational sacraments”, as it were (marriage & holy orders). He rears no children, nor celebrates any sacraments. Is he a superfluous person in the Church? Is this life only for those with an unstable personality, who would not fit the other vocations?

It would seem as if we’re all called either to marriage, to religious life, or to holy orders. Those who do not have these callings must be useless, somehow? That doesn’t make much sense, though, given how meticulous God tends to be about His plans.


Don’t try to categorize people for their vocations. Everyone can come from deeply different backgrounds and have different personalities and behaviours, and being called to do the same thing… It is wrong to put eeryone in one box. No call is equal, and people that were called to my order were called to do, at the fundamental level, different things than me. God is meticulous, but not very predictable when you can’t completley understand or rationalize His nature. :tsktsk:

Consecrated laypeople are not useless, but they’re not bound to any type of family or rule, either. They’re operating a different type of service for the Lord, granted they know this is their vocation. One friend of mine sought that her vocation was to marry Christ in a mystical way, but not joining any religious order. So, in about two years, she’s going to have her virginity consecrated, and she’ll be in permanent service to the Lord in ways that someone called to an order of friars like myself can’t (and aren’t called to) make. :thumbsup:

And just to refute that point, the Desert Fathers were celibate laymen as well, and they weren’t useless in any conceivable way. They’re actually the ones that monks look up to in order to understand how to enter into deep contemplation and observance towards our Lord. There is actually an order from about the 12th century (if I remember correctly) that were basically hermits that lived away from each other in mount Carmel in the Holy Land, and they only grouped for prayers and Mass. Eventually, they became an order known for its strict observance of solitude and contemplation, which we all know as the Carmelites. :slight_smile:

closed #6

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