The tradition of the Church has identified four main states of life or ways we live out our Baptismal call to holiness.
Most people would see the ministry of priests in daily parish life: offering Mass; hearing confessions; visiting the sick; school ministry; counselling and many other things. However, the priesthood is more than just ‘doing’- it is also ‘being’. The priest brings the presence of Jesus to those he meets in ministry, socially and in daily life.
The ministry of the priest is varied and depends on the need of the diocese. Some priests serve in specialised ministries such as youth, vocations, social work, university or school chaplaincy, teaching etc. - but most serve in parishes. It is the people of our parishes and the cities who need to hear the Good News of Jesus and hope for the future. The priest brings this in his life and work. The call to priesthood is one of the most rewarding that a man can do. If this is the Lord’s call for you, embrace the challenge and say ‘yes’.
Religious sisters, brothers and priests are those who seek to live their particular way of life (charism) in community (living with others) and seeking to live the Gospel demands by taking vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Traditionally, in Australia, those in consecrated life have lived out their mission in apostolates such as teaching, nursing, pastoral care and parish life. However, the scope of religious life is very broad and extends to all manner of apostolates that enrich the Church. For example, the contemplative life of the Carmelite sisters enriches a local Church by the power of their prayer and the beauty of their witness of total dedication. If you feel the call to consecrated life you should want to offer everything to the Lord in sacrifice to follow Jesus in the footsteps of a saint or founder.
In the Catholic Church, Marriage is one of seven sacraments. A man and woman in marriage reveal the full, free, faithful and fruitful love that Jesus Christ has for each of us.
The vocation to marriage is the fulfilment of God’s plan for man and woman to ‘become one’. Through the Sacrament of Marriage, spouses mutually help one another grow in holiness and enrich the world through their love made fruitful – by their witness and the gift of children.
Married couples are sustained by the support of one other and the grace of the sacrament, freely given by God.
If marriage is your vocation, discern this well by spending time with married couples whose marriage you’d like to emulate, reading about the Sacrament of Marriage and preparing well for your wedding day and life together.
Perhaps you are not sure what vocation the Lord is calling you to yet. Perhaps you choose, by circumstance or situation, to remain in the single state of life. Try not to see this as just a place to ‘chill out’ and do nothing. Each Christian, regardless of their state in life, is called through their Baptism to discipleship and to mission. If you are currently in the single state, this should be characterised by your service of others and your genuine seeking of holiness.
Single people play a vital role in the life of the Church by offering themselves and their gifts at the service of others while seeking to live a holy life as an example to those around them.