While marriage and holy orders are the two vocations that are sacraments, there are other vocations to which God may be calling you. These non-sacramental vocations profess the evangelical councils of chastity, poverty and obedience, and live a life as a professed member of a religious order or a secular institute of pontifical or diocesan right.
The vocation to religious life as a consecrated religious, a sister or brother in a religious order is a beautiful witnesses to the Christian life and love of God. Consecrated religious strengthen the Body of Christ through their prayer. Religious typically wear a habit of some sort and live in community. Religious orders are broadly categorized as either active or contemplative. If a man is a member of a religious order and is ordained a priest he does receive the sacrament of holy orders. There is a rich history in our church of consecrated brothers and sisters in religious orders and many of our greatest saints lived this vocation.
Contemplative orders prioritize inward conversion through personal and communal prayer striving to more perfectly love God and unite themselves to the Lord. Benedictines, Carthusians, Carmelites and Poor Clares are traditionally contemplative orders. Some contemplative orders are cloistered, meaning they are completely separated from the world and live in community to pray, grow closer to union with God and intercede for the whole Church.
Active orders are orders like the Franciscans, Dominicans, Jesuits and Missionaries of Charity. These orders are called active orders because they tend to have more direct interaction with the world through apostolates of preaching, teaching, missions, youth ministry, media apostolates, service ministries and more. While these orders are typically more active than their contemplative brothers and sisters, they are also prayerful and contemplative. Perhaps a more apt term for these orders is active-contemplative. Prayer and union with God is a priority of active orders as well. The Dominicans prioritize prayer because it is their prayer that informs their preaching. Active orders balance prayer and community life with active apostolates in the world.
Another non-sacramental vocation is that of a consecrated lay person. The consecrated lay person devotes their life to prayer and the service of God while remaining in the world. A consecrated lay person professes chastity, poverty and obedience and is a member of a secular institute of pontifical or diocesan right. These consecrated people live and work in world but have consecrated themselves to God. Their consecration is a witness to all of us of the complete gift of oneself to God. Remaining in their careers like doctors, nurses, lawyers, teachers, architects, aid workers or any other work, consecrated lay people live by themselves or in a community and are leaven in the field bringing Christ with them everywhere they go.
The consecrated life is not something isolated and marginal, but a reality
which affects the whole Church.
In effect, the consecrated life is at the very heart of the Church as a decisive element for her mission, since it “manifests the inner nature of the Christian calling”and the striving of the whole Church as Bride towards union with her one Spouse.