What the Eucharist Taught Me about My Vocation

For as long as I remember, I have always imagined myself growing up, meeting a boy, getting married, and having children. As a child, this was my go-to decision for my vocation.

In High School, my faith was more important to me and the vocation of religious life started to look like a real option. I sat with a group of young girls in a small group, helping to prepare them for their Confirmation, when one of them looked at me and said, in all seriousness, “So are you going to be a nun or something?”

But my stomach sank at those words.

Just because I am a young Catholic woman, devoted to God, does that mean I’m obviously supposed to be a sister?

Though I appreciate the beauty of all vocations, I had always felt more called to the vocation of marriage. I wanted to be held and loved by a man, and to give that opportunity up seemed heartbreaking. Somehow, waking up to a crying baby in the middle of the night and trying to balance a career and family seemed much more appealing than religious life. It seems like marriage is what my soul is made for. Yet, sometimes people make it seem like religious life is the “better” vocation.

One weekend, my mom and I attended an unfamiliar parish for Sunday Mass, and after being at a devoutly Catholic college for the past 6 months, I was shaken up by the way the congregation at this parish seemed disinterested in the Mass.

As Catholics, we forget what Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and the Last Supper really meant for humanity. We forget that Christ is truly present in the bread and wine at Mass. How often have I sat through Mass completely oblivious or careless to the Real Presence of God I am about to consume? (Um, very often.) And aside from my obliviousness to the Sacrament, my imperfect human nature makes me incapable of completely understanding the mystery of the Eucharist. I cannot fully understand God or the Eucharist because I am human and because I am a sinner. He is perfect. I am not.

After Mass I sat in my car considering my vocation. I was hit with the realization that while I have the profound desire within my heart to be perfectly understood, loved unconditionally, and cherished constantly, if I get married, I would be giving my heart fully to a man who can do none of the above for the simple reason he is only human. It’s a truth I’ve heard thousands of times… only God can satisfy.

I realized that I would be spending every day with, making dinner with, raising kids with, and waking up next to a man who will never be able to understand me the way God can. Suddenly the difficulties of marriage dawned on me in a way they never had before. Of course marriage will be hard – I and my husband will completely devote ourselves to each other and try to love each other the way God loves us, all while knowing we will never be able to perfectly satisfy or understand each other the way God can.

Flash back to Mass that morning with my Mom. I had seen hundreds of people, including myself, who could never fully understand the love of God. Yet, just as we are called to do in marriage, God freely, unconditionally, and unreservedly, gave His Body on the cross for us, whether we would be able to comprehend the beauty of Mass or not. He said, “I can understand and satisfy you perfectly, and even though you will not fully understand my love or my sacrifice, I will give myself for you.”

Our Lord was well aware of the numerous times we would stand there mindlessly in Mass. He knew the thousands upon thousands of people who would never devote themselves to Him. Yet, He still gave his life for us to have a chance at salvation.

When I realized that God’s love is mirrored in a unique way in marriage, I understood that a call to the married life doesn’t mean I’m called to a less important vocation.

While I know no man could ever completely understand the aches, experiences, and desires of my heart, I would put in effort to love this man, to will his good. The same will be true for my husband towards me. I understand now that all vocations are equally beautiful and difficult; yet, with the grace of God we are able to love more perfectly and live our callings more beautifully. Where we are weak, He is strong.