Different Vocations

Different Vocations Intro

When we are thinking of the vocations, or states of life, a person could be called to we generally think of four:

  1. Priesthood
  2. Religious Life
  3. Married Life
  4. Single Life

Of course, God doesn’t always put things in nice neat little boxes for us. Some vocations seem to cross borders. What about permanent deacons? Deacons have received the Sacrament of Holy Orders, but they aren’t priests. I think, under this categorization, you might consider their state of life to be either married life or single life. What about consecrated virgins? Consecrated virginity is a form of consecrated life but not religious life. They may be categorized here under single life. So, for a fuller explanation of vocations we’ll look at Holy Orders instead of just the priesthood, and consecrated life instead of just religious life.

Holy Orders

This is the sacrament of apostolic ministry. Conferred by the Sacrament of Holy Orders which marks them with an indelible spiritual character (as with baptism and confirmation) which cannot be removed


  • at a lower level of the hierarchy
  • Conferred on men single or married
  • Configured them to Christ, who made Himself servant of all
  • It is the task of deacons to assist the bishop and priests in the celebration of divine mysteries, proclaim the Gospel, bless marriages, preside at funerals, and dedicate themselves to works of charity
  • Can be a permanent state or transitional (a step before being ordained a priest)

Presbyterate (Priests)

  • Co-workers of the bishop
  • In the Latin (western) Church, generally conferred only on men committed to living a celibate life
  • Configured to Christ the priest and are able to act in the person of Christ the head
  • They are consecrated to preach the Gospel, shepherd the faithful and celebrate divine worship, especially the sacrifice of the Mass

Episcopacy (Bishops)

  • The fullness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders
  • Transmitters of the apostolic line
  • Conferred only on men committed to living a celibate life
  • Confers the office of sanctifying, teaching and ruling
  • Take the place of Christ Himself, teacher, shepherd, and priest, and act as His representative

Consecrated Life

Consecrated persons are lay persons or clerics who assume the evangelical counsels (chastity, poverty and obedience) by means of a sacred bond, and become members of an institute of consecrated life (can. 573.2).

Religious Life

(monks, nuns, sisters, brothers, friars)

  • A public and complete state of consecrated life
  • For celibate men and women, lay or clerical
  • Profess public vows to observe the evangelical counsels of chastity, poverty and obedience
  • The vows are perpetual or temporary, but are renewed when they expire
  • Requires fraternal life in community
  • Requires a degree of separation from the world  (Not a secular state of life)

Secular Institutes

  • Observe the three evangelical counsels by means of a sacred commitment
  • Live and to work in the midst of the people of God in the normal conditions of their own social setting according to the secular style of life which is proper to them.
  • secularinstitutes.org

Societies of Apostolic Life

  • Have a particular apostolic purpose
  • Lead a life as brothers or sisters in common according to a particular manner of life
  • Members embrace the evangelical counsels by some bond
  • Examples:  Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, The Marian Community of Reconciliation

Consecrated Virgins

  • For women who have not knowingly and deliberately engaged in sexual activity at any point in their lives
  • Constitute a special eschatological image of the Heavenly Bride, the Church
  • Consecrated by the diocesan Bishop
  • Committed to perpetual virginity
  • Remains in a secular state, providing for her own needs
  • http://consecratedvirgins.org

Eremitic or Anchoritic Life

(Hermits and Anchorites)

  • May belong to ancient Orders, new Institutes or may be directly dependent on the Bishop.
  • Practice a stricter withdrawal from the world, the silence of solitude and assiduous prayer and penance
  • Publicly professes the evangelical counsels by vow or other sacred bond

Married Life

  • A life-long covenantal partnership between a man and a woman
  • Raised to the dignity of a sacrament when between baptized persons
  • Ordered to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children

Single Life

  • Men and women who have renounced the great good of marriage to follow Christ