God created us out of love, and he created us for love. Love is “the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1604) This is what we refer to as the “universal” vocation, the calling shared by the entire human race: to learn to love as God loves, to slowly become one with him in mind and heart. In other words, to become saints. This is the meaning of life.
Life is meant to be a “School of Love,” and in this school there are several different paths one can take toward graduation. For example, I am a priest because I believe that this is how God has called me to become a saint. If I live out my priestly vocation to the fullest and cooperate with his graces, he will slowly soften the hardness of my heart. He will slowly teach me to love as he loves.
Like priesthood, marriage is a particular calling created by God to help people to become saints. Through their daily sacrifice and giving of self, husband and wife can slowly learn to love as God loves. They are constantly called to choose to put the needs of their spouse and their children before their own. They quickly see how true it is that love is a choice, not just a feeling. Together, cooperating with God’s grace, they help each other to soften each other’s rough edges. They help each other to grow in virtue and become the saints they are called to be.
The mutual love between husband and wife is also meant to be “an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man.” (CCC #1604) When a couple stays together through all the ups and downs of decades of marriage, loving each other selflessly and unconditionally, their children and their whole community witness a concrete example of God’s love. They are able to say, “Wow, see how Bob and Sue love each other? That must be what God’s love is like!”
Some thoughts for prayer and discussion:
- Your mission in life is to become a saint: to be happy with God now and in eternity. Is this currently the focus of your life, or do you have lesser goals?
- Have you ever thought of marriage as a holy calling from God, like the priesthood? Why or why not?
- If you are married, in what ways has God already helped you to learn to love as he loves? Are you helping each other to become saints?