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The word vocation comes from the Latin vocare, meaning to call. It is God who calls us, as the evangelist John wrote, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit — fruit that will last” (John 15:16).

Each of us has a vocation, a call to live according to the example of Jesus in the Gospels and in keeping with God’s desire for us. That may mean marrying and raising a family, living as a single woman or man in service to others, or offering ourselves to God through religious life. Wherever we are called it is to a life of prayer and service.

There is a deeper purpose to our call than merely personal satisfaction. When we accept a vocation we focus our thoughts on God and act according to the will of the Holy Spirit in our individual circumstances. If we choose what will bring us closer to God, we will reach the full joy that comes through following the will of God. We will find, as Frederick Buechner said, that “the place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” This will not always be apparent at the outset, so we trust in God’s guidance and wait in patience.

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“Our greatest fulfillment lies in giving ourselves to others.”
–Henri Nouwen