Meaning of Vocation

The origin of the word vocation

It comes from the Latin verb “vocare”, which means “to call”. The vocation is, therefore, a call. In the religious sphere, vocation is always a call from God for something.

The called person feels impelled, attracted to what he is justly called to do. It is common to hear someone who has had this vocation experience say that the call is as if it were a voice that resonates softly and insistently in our ears. It is like an idea that insists on remaining, even when we want to discard it.

The person with a vocation is attracted to what he considers beautiful, grandiose, important and necessary to be done. The vocation is always seen as something that can be useful to others, and that is, therefore, a service that can be rendered to others.

It is important to say that vocation always has this dimension of “otherness”, it is always “alter”, that is, it is always directed towards the other. It is a service, a donation.

For us Christians, the vocation is enriched with a profound meaning, which is given to us by Christ himself.

Every baptized person is called to be always and everywhere – “salt of the earth and light of the world”. This task of every Christian is already a vocation in itself.

The Christian is always called to do good and to promote justice, turning away from evil. And all of this is a vocation, a call, an imperative dictated by our adherence to Christ.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle already said that man is, by nature, a political animal. By nature he lives in “koinonìa”, that is, in community. Living in community, our actions are never isolated actions, they have repercussions throughout the community. So it is also in relation to our professional activity.

The types of vocations


Lay people are all Christians who, as baptized, have the mission of proclaiming Jesus Christ : the way, the truth and the life. They are non-consecrated people who work in the construction of the kingdom of God, that is, of a just and more fraternal society, according to the desire of Jesus. They exercise different ministries in the community, according to the gifts that God has given them. These services are: catechesis, social works, animation of the liturgy, etc. The layman represents the Church in the heart of the world, thus acting in the most diverse environments (school, work, family), with the testimony of his life, his opportune word, his concrete action. On the other hand, he is the man of the world at the heart of the Church.


Men and women religious are people who have been called to follow Jesus within a religious congregation, consecrating themselves to Him through religious vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, in addition to others specific to each congregation. Through the vow the religious makes an offering of himself to God. The evangelical foundation of consecrated life is in the relationship that Jesus established with some of his disciples, inviting them to put their existence at the service of the Kingdom, leaving everything behind and imitating their way of life more closely. The congregations of religious women linked to the Order of Carmel have as their charism the continuous search for God, through prayer and the apostolate, with a particular devotion to Mary, the Mother of God.


The priesthood is a way of following God’s call exclusively for men. The priest is someone taken from the people and consecrated by God for the service of that same people in the things that refer to God. He is the great mediator between God and the people. Its role is to continue the mission of Jesus Christ, Head of the Church. In addition to celebrating Mass and ministering the sacraments (such as Baptism, Confession), it is up to him to increase love in communities, in families, in the hearts of people. There are 2 types of priests: religious, who, in addition to exercising the parish ministry, also assume the charism of their congregation; and diocesans, who do not belong to any religious congregation, but obey the diocese, in the person of the Bishop.


Marriage is a loving call that God makes a man and a woman to live together and raise a family. They are 2 children of God that God himself gives to each other, so that one belongs to the other and to the other. When the family truly lives, love is corresponding to the love of God, it is educating children in that love and it is setting an example of fidelity to God and to his project of love. This fidelity occurs through an experience of Christian values. In this way, the family becomes an ideal space and environment for the children to be able to discern the call of Jesus. The home remains a living temple of God and a miniature Church. Being the 1st educator, it is in the family that vocations are born and grow, and where everyone’s vocational responsibility is formed.

The difference between profession and vocation

The word “vocation” has its Latin root in vox-vocis = voice called, call. The word “profession”, on the other hand, comes from the Latin profissione-professu = expert, office, public statement… What relationship is there between vocation and profession? Do people articulate these two realities in their life choices? Does this theme have a current meaning?

I think it is very timely to reflect on this issue, especially at a time when, paradoxically, the prospects for professional choices are broadening, while unemployment is increasing. The number of schools, courses and candidates grows, and university vacancies, especially public ones, remain unchanged. And more: in a situation in which many question themselves to what they are called, vocational.

The first problem to be asked is about the tendency to reduce the individual’s vocation to aptitude, ease, innate gift. It includes this aspect, but it cannot be limited to it, because otherwise it would condemn the vast majority of people to frustration, when they realize that they were not contemplated with natural, clearly identifiable gifts. In order to understand more fully the sense of vocation, it is necessary to look for another matrix, another reference that expands its meaning, articulating it with the professional reality.

First of all, man is called to be happy, a happiness that must be expressed in history, in concrete life, in daily life. But what does it mean to be happy? Is the whole pursuit of human happiness inexhaustible in history? Does human desire accept the limit that life itself imposes on it?

Here comes the dimension of the “ MEANING OF LIFE”: We are called to have a profound meaning for life. For some, this meaning is expressed as happiness here and now, whose object varies from person to person: money, pleasure, cheering for a team, dating, having sex, working, being supportive, loving and so on. Others say that the ultimate, profound meaning of life is God, that life does not end with death and for this reason to build a transformed, just and fraternal world is to anticipate the transcendence of life. This first dimension of vocation, then, could be called opening up to the “SENSE OF LIFE”. I believe it is the most fundamental dimension.

The second dimension would be the opening to the OTHER, the solidarity dimension. We don’t live alone. We are the result of the dedication of many people. It is in the relationship with others that we build society, care for the public (politics), friendship, love, family … Forgetting this dimension is contributing to the dehumanization of our relationships, a reality that worries everyone who dreams and fight for a fraternal society. And yet, we can not fail to say that, for them to have a religious view of life, it is in the relationship with the other that we can assume the condition children of God, that is: we are called to be BROTHERS.

There is also a third dimension. It occurs in the relationship of man with the WORLD. It is in the world that man makes himself and transforms himself at the same time that he transforms him, through work, into a “human world” – culture: we are called, then, to be WORLD MANAGERS.

Within this perspective that we present, the profession, the way in which man exercises his role of transforming the world, takes on a meaning that can perfectly articulate with man’s transcendental vocation, ( OPENING TO THE SENSE, THE OTHER AND THE WORLD ) surpassing the limited view of “conforming to innate tendencies, gifts” and etc. Otherwise, a good part of people would suffer the suffering of not being fulfilled ( DID NOT DISCOVER THEIR GIFTS), or else, they would not find sense to carry out arduous and demanding tasks, but deeply necessary to the quality of life of society. Not all people are able to find complete integration between their profession and their aptitude. It would be desirable for everyone to be able to do what they like and dream about, with pleasure and, at the same time, achieve economic conditions, for a good quality life. But reality does not always make it possible to do everything at the same time.

It is necessary, then, to unveil another important aspect: we cannot fail to realize that the vocation and the professional choice have a cultural and historical dimension, the result of a great context such as the family, the social, the educational, the political, the religious, the economic, among others. It is in this context that we make ourselves, we are pregnant. The history, the life story of each one poses challenges, situations in which we are provoked to respond. The action of freedom and the conditioning of situations impose on us the hard task of choosing, choosing. Whether the criterion is just “guaranteed satisfaction or your money back”, or “doing what your master tells you to do”, or even “who wants money”, many frustrations await us in the globalized market.

Some time ago we lost a Brazilian citizen, who was an example of this integral vision of the vocation that we present: Betinho !. He dreamed of seeing “in life … that Brazil began to change”, a dreamer who felt challenged from a young age, called to build his vocation. There are many like him: Francisco de Assis, Biraghi, Chico Mendes… May they be an inspiration and an example for us of what Frost teaches and that their life was testimony: “Two roads followed different paths in a forest. I took the least busy one. That made all the difference. ” May we feel and become dedicated, called to seek SENSE , to open ourselves to OTHERS and to transform the WORLD . Here would be the fullest meaning of the articulation between VOCATION AND PROFESSION.

Meaning of Vocation