O, God, we earnestly ask you to bless this archdiocese with many priests, deacons, brothers and sisters …
At every Sunday Mass, my parish prays two special prayers for vocations. We begin with a prayer for marriage and family, asking St. Joseph to intercede for us. After the Prayers of the Faithful, we pray another prayer that begins with the words with which I began this blog post. It has been a long-standing tradition to pray for and foster vocations within our parish. And by doing this within our parish, it has been natural to continue the conversation within our own family.
The vocations discussion was not as common when my husband and I were growing up. I do not recall ever having a conversation about discerning one’s vocation. No one ever talked to me about the religious life, and I saw very few sisters as examples of this possible life direction. As a little girl, I did not dream of being a wife and mother, but in the back of my mind, I assumed that would be my life’s work one day. In college, as I was taking classes toward my major, no one talked about vocation—and I even went to a Catholic college where I finally did encounter Catholic sisters. No, it was all about sending out resumes and finding an entry-level job that would be a stepping stone into a successful career. Little did I know that only three years after graduation, I would be married and a year later I would begin my “career” as a stay-at-home mom of six children. Yeah, no one talked about this part of life. I entered my vocation rather blindly, with little discernment of any other possibility. Thankfully, I chose well, and I couldn’t be happier being a wife and mom. But looking back, it would have been nice to grow in appreciation of other vocations and understand better what God was—and wasn’t—calling me to do with my life.
Now that I am a mom, my husband and I have chosen to talk to our children openly about the various vocations that God calls people to enter into: marriage, priesthood, permanent deaconate, religious life, and consecrated life. They know that all of these ways of life are beautiful, life-giving, and paths to Heaven. It doesn’t require a lot to share openly about the varied ways we can live out our universal call to holiness.
… The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for … (CCC 27)
Here are five very simple things families can do to make vocations a natural conversation topic with their children:
1) Pray for vocations. Pray for your children’s unique vocations and that they are open to the Holy Spirit’s invitation—whatever it may be. Pray also as a family for vocations, in general. The prayers we pray at my parish can be found at the bottom of this blog post.
2) Learn about saints who were called to different vocations. For example, St. John Paul II was a priest. St. Gianna Molla was a married mom. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati was single. And St. Therese of Liseux was a religious sister. How different each of these saints were, and yet, each of them lived holy lives within their unique vocations. There are many wonderful examples of vocations among the communion of saints. A family could even look at their own litany of saints to discover how many vocations are represented. Looking at my family’s patron (namesake) saints, we have one priest, one religious, three married saints, and two consecrated singles—and that’s not including middle names and Confirmation patron saints!
3) Befriend people of other vocations. A simple way to do this is to invite your parish priest over for dinner. If your parish has a permanent deacon, invite his family over for game night. My family has been blessed with sisters at my children’s Catholic school, so they have gotten to know about that vocation through their interaction with them. My family also “adopts” a seminarian from our local seminary and prays for him and gets to know him as he is studying to become a priest.
4) Encourage service within the church. My 10-year-old son just began altar serving at Mass, and he absolutely loves it. We encouraged him to do this, because it is a wonderful opportunity for him to spend time with our priests and deacons, as well as with other Catholic boys. He also has the chance to learn the Mass and be close to Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. My girls have gotten involved in parish life by joining youth group and volunteering at Vacation Bible School. My high schooler serves with NET Ministries’ Teen Ministry Team at their monthly Mass. One of the monthly themes is vocations, and they host separate break-out sessions for the young men and women with priests and religious sisters. This is one of the most favored themes of the entire year for the 1,000+ teens who attend these monthly events!
5) Have gentle conversations. It is important to talk to kids about vocations. Sometimes, they don’t want to talk about the possibility of being a priest or sister. Even if they love their parish priest and admire the sister who teaches in their school, they don’t always want to see themselves in that counter-cultural role. This is understandable! But it is still important to talk about these callings and to gently encourage an openness. Even if God isn’t calling them to be a priest or religious, maybe He will call a sibling or friend of theirs, and someday, their openness will be a source of great encouragement for that other person.
To be saints is not a privilege for the few, but a vocation for everyone. (Pope Francis)
It is quite remarkable that God calls us to serve Him in many ways. He has designed His Kingdom to need all of these vocations to work together for all things good, true, and beautiful. May we always find creative ways to encourage our loved ones to honor God’s plan and follow it closely.
Prayer for Vocations
O God, we earnestly ask You to bless this archdiocese with many priests, brothers, and sisters who will love You with their whole strength and gladly spend their entire lives to serve your Church and to make You known and loved. Bless our families, bless our children. Choose from our homes those needed for your work. Mary, Queen of the clergy, pray for us, pray for our priests, religious, and deacons. Obtain for us many more.
Prayer for Families
Heavenly Father, we earnestly ask you to bless your Church by renewing our marriages and strengthening our families. We pray that all marriages reflect the sacrificial love between Christ and His Church. Help husbands and wives to see their vocation as their path to holiness. Guide parents in leading their children to Christ. Heal families that are broken and bring back your children who have gone astray. Mary, Queen of the family, pray for us, help us renew our culture and evangelize the world.
This post is part of the Catholic Women’s Bloggers Network’s monthly blog hop. To read more inspiring posts about this month’s vocations theme, please click HERE.