A CENTRAL theme in the literature of Christian vocation and discernment is the concept of the free Gift of Self. 

ALL human beings are called by God into restored union with Him. The goal and purpose of human existence is to freely give ourselves to the God Who calls us.  This insight is summarized by Pope St. John Paul II:

Freedom, [...] is essential to vocation [...]

Libertas [...] essentialis vocationi est; [...] N

The free oblation, [...]  constitutes the intimate and most precious core of a person’s response to God who calls, finds its incomparable model, indeed its living root, in the most free oblation [of] Jesus Christ [...]

Pope St. John Paul II, Pastores Dabo Vobis 36.

Libera [...] oblatio, in qua reponitur intimior ac validior sensus responsionis hominis ad vocantem Deum, exemplar praestantissimum, immo radicem suam reperit in ea liberrima oblatione Christi Iesu [...]


THIS THEME of THE GIFT of SELF is especially prominent in: the Bible; the Catechism of the Catholic Church; both the Theology of the Body and the apostolic exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis of Pope St. John Paul II; and the 1969 document, The Gift of Priestly Vocation (Ratio Fundamentalis) .













ROMANS ch. 12

1 I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

1 Παρακαλῶ οὖν ὑμᾶς, ἀδελφοί, διὰ τῶν οἰκτιρμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ παραστῆσαι τὰ σώματα ὑμῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑμῶν·

2 Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed [=transfigured] by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

2  καὶ μὴ συσχηματίζεσθε τῷ αἰῶνι τούτῳ, ἀλλὰ μεταμορφοῦσθε τῇ ἀνακαινώσει τοῦ νοὸς εἰς τὸ δοκιμάζειν ὑμᾶς τί τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ, τὸ ἀγαθὸν καὶ εὐάρεστον καὶ τέλειον.



 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,

 5  Τοῦτο φρονεῖτε ἐν ὑμῖν ὃ καὶ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ,

 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,

 6  ὃς ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ,

 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

 7  ἀλλὰ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν μορφὴν δούλου λαβών, ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος· καὶ σχήματι εὑρεθεὶς ὡς ἄνθρωπος

 8 And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross.

 8  ἐταπείνωσεν ἑαυτὸν γενόμενος ὑπήκοος μέχρι θανάτου, θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ.

 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name,

 9  διὸ καὶ ὁ θεὸς αὐτὸν ὑπερύψωσεν καὶ ἐχαρίσατο αὐτῷ τὸ ὄνομα τὸ ὑπὲρ πᾶν ὄνομα,

 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

 10  ἵνα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ πᾶν γόνυ κάμψῃ ἐπουρανίων καὶ ἐπιγείων καὶ καταχθονίων

 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 11  καὶ πᾶσα γλῶσσα ἐξομολογήσηται ὅτι κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς εἰς δόξαν θεοῦ πατρός.


JOHN ch. 17

17 Consecrate them in the truth; Your word is truth.

17 ἁγίασον αὐτοὺς ἐν τῇ ἀληθείᾳ· ὁ λόγος ὁ σὸς ἀλήθειά ἐστιν.

18 As You sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.

18 καθὼς ἐμὲ ἀπέστειλας εἰς τὸν κόσμον, κἀγὼ ἀπέστειλα αὐτοὺς εἰς τὸν κόσμον·

19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be consecrated in truth.

19 καὶ ὑπὲρ αὐτῶν ἐγὼ ἁγιάζω ἐμαυτόν, ἵνα ὦσιν καὶ αὐτοὶ ἡγιασμένοι ἐν ἀληθείᾳ.

20 “I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word,

20 Οὐ περὶ τούτων δὲ ἐρωτῶ μόνον, ἀλλὰ καὶ περὶ τῶν πιστευόντων διὰ τοῦ λόγου αὐτῶν εἰς ἐμέ,

21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in me, and I in You, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that You have sent me.

21 ἵνα πάντες ἓν ὦσιν, καθὼς σύ, πάτερ, ἐν ἐμοὶ κἀγὼ ἐν σοί, ἵνα καὶ αὐτοὶ ἐν ἡμῖν ὦσιν, ἵνα ὁ κόσμος πιστεύῃ ὅτι σύ με ἀπέστειλας.

22 The glory which You have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one,

22 κἀγὼ τὴν δόξαν ἣν δέδωκάς μοι δέδωκα αὐτοῖς, ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν καθὼς ἡμεῖς ἕν·

23 I in them and You in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that You have sent me and have loved them even as You have loved me.

23 ἐγὼ ἐν αὐτοῖς καὶ σὺ ἐν ἐμοί, ἵνα ὦσιν τετελειωμένοι εἰς ἕν, ἵνα γινώσκῃ ὁ κόσμος ὅτι σύ με ἀπέστειλας καὶ ἠγάπησας αὐτοὺς καθὼς ἐμὲ ἠγάπησας.












357 Being in the image of God the human individual possesses the dignity of a person, who is not just something, but someone. 357 Humanum individuum, quia est ad imaginem Dei, dignitatem habet personae: non est solum res aliqua, sed aliquis.
He is capable Capax est

of self-knowledge,

of self-possession

and of freely giving himself

and entering into communion with other persons.

se cognoscendi,

se possidendi

et se libere donandi

atque in communionem ingrediendi cum aliis personis,

And he is called by grace to a covenant with his Creator, to offer him a response of faith and love that no other creature can give in his stead.

 est per gratiam ad Foedus cum suo Creatore vocatus, ad Illi fidei et amoris offerendum responsum quod nullus alius suo loco praebere potest.

358 God created everything for man, (Cf. GS 12 # 1; 24 # 3; 39 # 1) but man in turn was created to serve and love God and to offer all creation back to him:

358 Deus omnia creavit pro homine; 235 homo est creatus ut Deo serviat Eumque amet et Ei totam offerat creationem:





   § 372.  MADE for COMMUNION of PERSONS

372 MAN and WOMAN were made “for each other” - not that God left them half-made and incomplete: 372 Vir et mulier facti sunt « alius pro alio »: non quasi Deus eos nonnisi « dimidiatos » effecerit et « incompletos »;
he created them to be a communion of persons [ 1604 mutual love as image of God's love] in which each can be “helpmate” to the other, for they are equal as persons (“bone of my bones. . .”) and complementary as masculine and feminine. Ille eos pro personarum creavit communione  in qua unusquisque « adiutorium » esse potest pro alio, quia simul quatenus personae sunt aequales (« os ex ossibus meis... ») et quatenus masculinum et femininum sese mutuo complent.

Fouquet, Paradise

Tres Riches Heures


In marriage God unites them in such a way that, by forming “one flesh”, (Gen 2:24) they can transmit human life: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” (Gen 1:28) By transmitting human life to their descendants, man and woman as spouses and parents cooperate in a unique way in the Creator’s work (Cf. GS 50 # 1).

 In matrimonio, Deus eos ita coniungit ut « unam carnem » efformantes (Gn 2,24) vitam humanam transmittere valeant: « Crescite et multiplicamini et replete terram » (Gn 1,28). Vir et mulier, tamquam sponsi et parentes, suis descendentibus vitam transmittentes humanam, singulari modo, operi cooperantur Creatoris.

373 In God’s plan man and woman have the vocation of “subduing” the earth (Gen 1:28) as stewards of God. This sovereignty is not to be an arbitrary and destructive domination. God calls man and woman, made in the image of the Creator “who loves everything that exists”,(Wis 11,24), to share in his providence toward other creatures; hence their responsibility for the world God has entrusted to them.

373 In Dei consilio, vir et mulier vocationem habent subiiciendi terram 261 tamquam « administratores » Dei. Haec dominatus elatio arbitraria et destructiva esse non debet. Ad imaginem Creatoris qui diligit « omnia, quae sunt » (Sap 11,24), vir et mulier vocantur ad divinam participandam providentiam erga alias creaturas. Exinde eorum responsabilitas pro mundo quem Deus illis concredidit.





of Pope Saint John Paul II










of Pope Saint John Paul II







Theology of the Body
no. 1.1. 16 nuptial meaning of body and gift of self;
On Celibacy 1.3.2. #75;
& #78