Vocation from Youth’s Pathfinder by Rev. Fulgence Meyer, O.F.M. (1927)


Young Nun Praying

This life is a stage upon which we are all destined to play a certain brief sketch or role. Our parts have been assigned us by God, the supreme manager and director of the play of life. The best actor on the theatrical stage are usually eminent and highly successful in one manner of play, whereas they might fail completely if they attempted another. Similarly God has fitted and qualified each person for a peculiar sphere of life. Whoever adopts the life he is created for, and pursues it properly and fervently, will achieve great success and much happiness; whereas if one seeks to follow a life for which he is not adapted, he will necessarily incur disappointment and failure. Many a plant thrives wonderfully in the tropic zone, which is pitifully dwarfed and stunted in the temperate or arctic zone, In the same way many a person prospers immensely in a given vocation,who would be the merest bungler in another calling.

One of the Three is Yours: Which Is It?

It is evident, therefore, that if a young person wants to succeed and be happy in life and in eternity, the first requisite is the correct choice of a vocation. Here we are dealing with vocation from the spiritual and supernatural standpoint; hence only three kinds of vocation come under consideration. A young person may be called by God either to lead a single life in the world, or to consecrate him of herself to one in the priesthood or the religious life, or to be married. One of these three roles is fixed by God for everyone; and it is in the interest of every young person to find out his or her calling early in life, in order to prepare duly for it betimes, and thus to be the better qualified to play the role once the time comes to assume it.

Many young people are destined by God to lead a single or celibate life in the world. Some have no inclination to the convent or matrimony, or no capacity for either life; others, much as they might be inclined to marry, are constrained by circumstances to stay single, either because they do not acquire a proper mate, or because certain personal or family conditions are in the way! Others pursue the single state from definite choice as offering them the opportunities to dedicate themselves to a high career and noble ambition in a free and untrammeled manner.

The Relative Values of Vocations

The Church has declared, that the single, or celibate, or virginal life, when embraced and followed from motives of virtue, is in itself holier and more acceptable before God than life in marriage, since it involves a greater sacrifice of oneself. It must be observed, however, that the church does not here decide the respective virtue of individual persons pertaining to the two states. It therefore happens quite frequently, that a married person faithfully lives up to the duties of the married state , and is much better in the sight of God than a celibate or virgin, whose devotion to duty is not so loyal. There are married women who are more holy than certain nuns, and married men who are more godly than certain priests or friars; but this fact in no way changes the relative status of the vocation. The priesthood and the religious state are of themselves much dearer to God than the married state. It must again be remarked, that whoever stays single merely to be unattached to any serious obligation, and to pursue a life of libertinism freely and loosely, in the open or in private, is neither practicing virtue not deserving of anything but utter contempt and universal execration.

It Is No One Else’s Business

Why a certain person is leading the life of a celibate or a virgin in the world is no one else’s business. Vocation is a very personal and individual affair, and therefore a sacred domain into which others have no right to intrude. It bespeaks not a little arrogance and impertinence, if one undertakes to dictate to another what kind of a vocation he or she should espouse, or asks for an account why one calling was given the preference to another. Not even parents have a right to map out, let alone to interfere with, the choice of a vocation on the part of their children. In this choice everyone is free and responsible to no one but God. But while parents might cause great trouble and disaster to their children by an unwarranted assumption of power regarding the children’s choice of a vocation, or by wielding an undue influence over them directly or indirectly, they can also be of much service and material assistance to their children by their wise and unselfish counsel and advice.