Marriage as vocation
You will never be happy if your happiness depends on getting solely what you want. Change the focus. Get a new center. Will what God wills, and your joy no man shall take from you.” Venerable Fulton J Sheen
What does ‘vocation’ mean?
The word ‘vocation’ has as its root the Latin verb ‘vocare’: to call. God calls each of us to follow Him on a daily basis but when we speak of ‘discerning a vocation’, we usually mean working out how it is that God wants us to live our adult lives as a whole: not just in what we do, but who we are. On this page, we explore the vocation – or calling – to married life.
Marriage as a vocation
God who created man out of love also calls him to love – the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. For man is created in the image and likeness of God who is himself love.” Catechism of the Catholic Church §1604
Through the sacrament of marriage, we live that universal call to holiness with particular reference to spouse and children: my marriage is the main way through which, please God, I will reach heaven. It is a calling that mirrors the relationship of Christ and his Church, as Pope Francis wrote in Amoris Laetitia §72:
Marriage is a vocation, inasmuch as it is a response to a specific call to experience conjugal love as an imperfect sign of the love between Christ and the Church. Consequently, the decision to marry and to have a family ought to be the fruit of a process of vocational discernment.
For more about discerning your vocation, please see here.
Living the vocation of Marriage
Although, perhaps, it is not at the forefront of our minds each day, Tertullian’s description of marriage gives us a helpful reminder of the often-unseen realities of the sacrament of marriage, the graces of which are effectual for as long as we ‘both shall live’:
‘How can I ever express the happiness of the marriage that is joined together by the Church, strengthened by an offering, sealed by a blessing, announced by angels and ratified by the Father? How wonderful the bond between two believers, with a single hope, a single desire, a single observance, a single service! They are both brethren and both fellow servants; there is no separation between them in spirit or flesh. In fact they are truly two in one flesh, and where the flesh is one, one is the spirit.’
No matter how unlikely this seems in the daily round of domestic chores, daily work, children’s needs and too little sleep, the reality of a sacramental marriage is nothing less than ‘a gift given for the sanctification and salvation of the spouses, since their mutual belonging is a real representation, through the sacramental sign, of the same relationship between Christ and the Church.’ AL72
God, who called the couple to marriage, continues to call them in marriage.” St John Paul II
We recall that ‘vocation’ means our calling and we believe that God calls us each and every day. We must not simply stop listening to God once we have discerned and responded positively to the ‘Big Call’ of our lives!
The joy of sacramental marriage is to be found in the knowledge that it is God who holds us together in His Love. Amidst the messiness and imperfections of family life, we know that it was God who loved us first, and continues to love us, to bless us and to fill our marriage with His grace, so that we might love each other with (a shadow of!) that love.