Many people mistake our work for our vocation. Our vocation is the love of Jesus. –Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
Vocations. So much more than just a job, more than work, as Blessed Teresa reminds us, more than an education plan in college, more than what we do for a paycheck to get by in life. Our vocation is about how we love Jesus. Isn’t that a beautiful and simple way to start the conversation with our kids?
It’s a conversation I’ve barely touched on with my little brood. My oldest is only 10, but I still think it is important to start sowing the seeds about vocations. If our children only dream about a job, a career, a great hobby, a perfect house, then they are going to miss the bigger (and more exciting, more important!) picture. If we are serious about raising our children in the faith, and giving them the foundation they need to ground them in the faith and guide them into adulthood, then we also need to be open about vocations, and support them in listening to the call.
“Christian revelation presents the two vocations to love: marriage and virginity. In some societies today, not only marriage and the family, but also vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, are often in a state of crisis. The two situations are inseparable: “When marriage is not esteemed, neither can consecrated virginity or celibacy exist; when human sexuality is not regarded as a great value given by the Creator, the renunciation of it for the sake of the kingdom of heaven loses its meaning”. A lack of vocations follows from the breakdown of the family, yet where parents are generous in welcoming life, children will be more likely to be generous when it comes to the question of offering themselves to God: “Families must once again express a generous love for life and place themselves at its service above all by accepting the children which the Lord wants to give them with a sense of responsibility not detached from peaceful trust”, and they may bring this acceptance to fulfillment not only “through a continuing educational effort but also through an obligatory commitment, at times perhaps neglected, to help teenagers especially and young people to accept the vocational dimension of every living being, within God’s plan… Human life acquires fullness when it becomes a self-gift: a gift which can express itself in matrimony, in consecrated virginity, in self-dedication to one’s neighbour towards an ideal, or in the choice of priestly ministry. Parents will truly serve the life of their children if they help them make their own lives a gift, respecting their mature choices and fostering joyfully each vocation, including the religious and priestly one”.”
Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality: Guidelines for Education within the Family, Pontifical Council for the Family, 1995 (emphasis mine)
It’s important to the life of the Church that we encourage our children! I know that it will be amazing of one (or more!) of my five children is called to religious life. I’m also pretty sure that if that is God’s plan, I can help them along the way by not only praying for them, but talking with them and giving them experiences to see and encounter religious life in action, beyond seeing the priest at Mass.
But, I don’t exactly know the best way to do this. Growing up, I attended Catholic school, but the nuns were grouchy. Most of the priests were unapproachable. It wasn’t a great introduction to religious life as a possibility for me. (Granted, God didn’t have that in mind for me, but I want better for my children. And I don’t at all blame my parents’ choices for the grouchy disposition of the men and women in religious life that I knew then. My parents gave so much so we could have the best education they chose for us, and I’m grateful.)
I’ve reached out to many friends in the blogging-world and my personal world, asking for their stories and tips. Some are moms just like me, writing their own stories. Some are moms, but are writing about their brothers who are in seminary or the priesthood. Some are moms writing about their children. Some, I hope, will be my friends who have walked the journey to priesthood or religious life, and have advice to share.
For the next several weeks, as long as I have someone to share their story with us, I’ll share a link to the blogger’s page who is sharing their heart and story about vocations with us. If you are someone with a story or a bit of wisdom to share about finding your vocation, please do share! Email me if you want to share a post on your own blog or share your story here. Let’s encourage each other, as we raise up little saints!
A fun(ny) and playful look at sisterhood:
20 Cool Things about Nuns in Habits
Posts in this series:
Sr. Theresa’s Story by Anabelle (Jan. 27)
Vocation Ideas by Debbie (Jan. 27)
Encouraging Vocations: An Interview with My Parents by Micaela (Feb. 3)
Seven Ways to Help Children Be Open to Religious Vocation by Rita (Feb. 10)
Igniting a Child’s Passion for Vocation by Melody (Feb. 17)
Keeping Doors Open by Parenting with Peer Review (Feb. 24)
Letting Him Call, Having Them Answer by Mary (Mar. 3)