"Love is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being"
My Vocation is Love
When writing about her vocation in her autobiography, Story of a Soul, Saint Therese of Lisieux says with great exuberance, "My vocation is love!" Indeed this can be said for each and everyone of us! We were created in the image and likeness of God: a God who is, by nature, a relationship of mutual and self sacrificial love. This means that we, too, are created for relationships of love, and as the Second Vatican Council so clearly says, "This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself" (Gaudium et Spes, 24).
The question before all of us is, "How is God calling me to love? How am I called to give myself as gift?"
These are not small questions in a world that tells us that fulfillment is found in the satisfaction of our desires and wants. Even married life is not presented by our culture as a Vocation from God. The first step in any discernment process is to make certain that we recognize that no matter what life we choose for ourselves, we are choosing it because it is the one that God calls us to: it is the one by which God intends for us to give our gift of self to another, and in doing so we find ourselves and our purpose.
Many find that they are called to love, and to give themselves as gift to another, through the Sacrament of Marriage. In entering into this Sacrament, a man and his wife become the paradigmatic sign of the love of the Trinity in the world. This is certainly no small task!
Some find that they are called to give themselves as gift to the entire Church through entering into Consecrated Life as a Religious man or woman. The fundamental objective of Religious Life is "the cultivation of the collective Christian treasure, which is contained and given to all the faithful in the sacraments of initiation" (Ministers of Mercy and Compassion, 1). Men and women religious give their lives as gift to the Church and make of themselves a signpost to the life to come by their imitation of Christ in poverty, chastity, and obedience.
In the case of the Society of Saint Edmund, God calls from among these Brothers some men to serve also as Priests, and to celebrate the Sacraments with the People of God. As Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said in his homily at the Ordination of Priests in 2006, "The priest is totally inserted into Christ, so that by starting from him and acting in his sight, he may carry out in communion with him the service of Jesus, the one Shepherd, in whom God, as man, wants to be our Shepherd."