I don’t know exactly how the kerfuffle started on Catholic Twitter. I think someone had an innocent question about vocations. And then multiple priests were informing people that the best and highest vocation is objectively the Roman Catholic priesthood. Nothing else held a candle to that. The rest of us were all right, but they were best of all. Other Catholics objected to this. The debate went on for some time.
I sometimes wonder how nasty God would have to be, to say “The very best way to imitate Me is to be a celibate straight man who can afford to get all the way through college and seminary with no debt, with nothing below or above just the right IQ and mental health to make it to ordination, and no disabilities that would prevent him from celebrating Mass. Therefore, I’ll make the vast majority of the people on Earth incapable of doing that.” But that’s the kind of God some priests like to believe in.
As for me, I believe something different.
I have said this on the blog before and I’ll say it again: everyone has a vocation. There has never been a person who didn’t have a vocation. The first vocation is to exist.
The Father didn’t create you and me because He needed priests or nuns or married people, because of the sex we’d have or not have, because of the children we would or would not parent, because of the hours we’d put in serving at the soup kitchen or kneeling in the Adoration chapel. The Father created you and me because He loved the idea of you and me, and felt that His creation wasn’t complete without you and me. He deeply desired to make you and me perfectly happy by drawing us into the life of the Holy Trinity, adopted by the Father, spouse to the Son, forever alive in the Heartbeat that is the Holy Ghost. The Father thought that we would be the most beautiful and perfect gift that He could arrange for His beloved Son. That’s who we are. That is our vocation. Mine is to be Mary Pezzulo and yours is to be you. If I were someone other than Mary Pezzulo, then the particular facet of the infinite God I reflect would not be visible to the world. And if you were not you, it would be a similar tragedy.
There has never been a person who wasn’t called to be a great saint. Not one person in the history of the world has ever been called to be ordinary. We are all supposed to be saints, and not one saint is supposed to be exactly like another. Each path to sanctity looks a little different. The way to be a saint is to be fully yourself– not as the world sees but as God sees. The world sees you as something to exploit and smash and shove into a box so you’ll look and act like everybody else. God sees you as you are, and calls you good. You’re not perfect. The whole earth is fallen and not what it should be, and you’re capable of error and of hurting others. You’re in need of growth and change just like everyone. But the material you have to work with is created by God, and it’s good. It’s not the same as mine or anybody else’s, but it’s good. By the grace of God you can be a saint, and God wants to help you be a saint. Being a saint will take everything you have plus the infinity of God’s grace, but it won’t take more than that. The path by which God leads you on your adventure won’t look like anybody else’s path. It will be your own.
The best and highest vocation is to be yourself, trusting that if God wanted you to be somebody else He would have made you that way. The best and highest vocation is to try and discern what God wants you to do on this particular day and then to do it, and to repent the thousand times you fail, and to keep doing that every day of your life until your life is over. The best time to start on your vocation is now.
Doing this may well lead you to a seminary. If it doesn’t, that doesn’t mean God loves you less. It means that God wants to wed you in a different way, and take you on a different adventure, and make you into a different kind of great saint.
But He does want to make you a great saint.
The way He’s going to do that, is by helping you to become fully yourself.
That’s the God I believe in. That’s the life I’m trying to lead. The first vocation is to exist, and it’s good that we exist. Because it’s good that we exist, we embark on the journey of being ourselves. To be most fully yourself, by the grace of God, is to be a saint.
A saint is the best you could possibly be, and it’s what we are all called to be.
Image via Pixabay
Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.
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