Saturday, March 6, 2010

Fostering Vocations

Often, when I hear about the shortage of Priest's, I think about how I want to foster the various vocations available to my son (and hopefully soon, children).

I get the impression that, back when times were "harder", families were more prone to encourage their children to go into the Priesthood, or join a convent due to the financial security. I think it is important, that we continue to foster those vocations (other than marriage) within our children, and let them know that marriage is not the only sacrament that comes after Confirmation.

I would really like to hear everyone else's thoughts and ideas about really is an intriguing topic for me.


R.A.~ said...

Interestingly, this has been on my mind lately. I've been struggling with being single because I find it quite lonely. And I recently was introduced to a Benedictine nun and she told me that she joined the convent at my age...which scared me. What if this was my future vocation? It's really hard to imagine a life lived alone, but it is so important in the church. You really need to be called to it. I also know if I ever (i cannot even imagine at this stage in my life) chose religious life my family would be HEARTBROKEN, which makes me consider it even less than I already do now...unfortunately.

I agree with you 100% though, within Catholic families all vocations should be shared and encouraged, especially now when very few choose religious life. I'll be praying for your family!

~Joseph the Worker said...

Interestingly, if you did decide to become a sister religious, you wouldn't be alone, but would probably rather be around a very large, supportive spiritual family. Don't rush yourself though, some people become religious brothers and sisters after middle age even. Discernment is important and takes a lot of time.


Maggie said...

Obviously, the vocation shortage is due to many factors, and I'll try to avoid post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacies... but I tend lay the blame squarely at the feet of the contraceptive mentality.

Prior to the contraceptive "revolution" of the 60s, most families were large. Many had six or more children. For parents, if a son or two went off to seminary, they were overjoyed. Not only were they serving the Lord, but they weren't worried about being provided for in old age; they had at least four other children to take care of them.

For the young men themselves, marriage was a great option, but no greater than the priesthood. Prior to the sexual revolution, marriage meant that a man would have to work very hard to provide for a large family, because his wife might not be able to work. Even leaving out the spiritual discernment angle, the sacrifices of being a priest were no greater (though different) than the sacrifices of providing for a large family.

Now, however, most families have only one or two children. Maybe three. Certainly no more than that. If a son expresses desire to enter seminary or a daughter muses about religious life, the parents are horrified. If there are only two children and one takes vows of celibacy,they immediately fret about lack of grandchildren. Perhaps sometimes, the more materialistic worry of who can care for them in their retirement.

Obviously, the vocation shortage has many causes, and contraception is only one. The young men I know in seminary were usually inspired by the example of a young, vibrant priest they knew, either from their parish or as a family friend. And just as important, their families talked about vocations. Their parents invited priests over for a meal. They fostered Catholic identity in the home. Their families were utterly focused on God. From families such as these come vocations (usually).

I'm single, but I already pray that one (or more) of my sons will one day answer God's call to the cloth. It starts young, too. One of my friends made a little "Mass Kit" for her kids to play with. Her three-year-old frequently says Mass with grape juice and Ritz crackers in the living room. Whether or not he's called to priesthood is still up in the air, but even at age three he's considering the priesthood as a potential life choice. Way to go!

and that picture is adorable!

Soutenus said...

My son (10) tells us that he wants to be a priest when he grows up . . . many friends wrinkle their noses and say to me, "Oh, you'll have to discourage THAT." They all have different reasons for their (thoughtless) remarks but I find it so sad that so many parents do NOT want their children to go into a religious life. The reasons range from:
It is too hard, it is too lonely, you'll have no grandchildren, there are too many scandals with priests and people who have a problem with celibacy!
We encourage our son to pray daily to ask God to guide him. We are 100% open to the vocation of priesthood for our son. God's plan is far better than that of men. We trust and we pray and we joyfully encourage the religious life.
But -- we are definitely in the minority.

Happy St Patrick's Day (by the way!!!)

From Saint Patrick's Breastplate
Christ be with me
Christ before me
Christ behind me
Christ in me
Christ beneath me
Christ above me
Christ on my right
Christ on my left
Christ where I lie
Christ where I sit
Christ where I arise
Christ in the heart of every man
who thinks of me
Christ in the mouth of every man
who speaks of me
Christ in every eye that sees me
Christ in every ear that hears me
Salvation is of the Lord.

Greg said...

I can't give this the context and spirituality it truly deserves, but...

My father had wrestled with a brain tumor for over a year. He finally surrendered to Christ and had a conversion experience. I say to this day, in that short amount of time when he lived truly as a Christian, he lived better than all the many years prior.

We were laying in his bed one night talking. He told me that for all his life he never wanted me to be a priest. He wanted grandchildren, and wanted his name to be carried on. However, after he deeply experienced the Holy Spirit and the love of Christ, he had some different advice for me. He at that time encouraged me to explore the priesthood, and to explore deeper ways to serve the Lord.

I'm not a priest, but I'll never forget this exchange with my dad. My father's name will be carried on as I have a son (and a daughter). Perhaps my dad's grandson will become a priest? I know that I will certainly do all I can to expose him to this possibility, and will encourage him to explore it and pray about it.

Thanks for the great thread Joseph!

mel said...

Adorable picture!
Praying for our children to hear the call of God on their lives is our greatest privilege.