The Family: The Seedbed of Vocations


“So, as a parent, do you think about your kids’ vocations?”


Recently, I called up a friend of mine who, unlike me, actually has children, to ask for some tips for this series of posts that I will be writing for the Me and My House blog, on the subject of Catholic parenting and vocations. So I started with the above question, and this is what my friend had to say:


“I remember before my kids were born, I had given all of this thought to like, you know, all the morals and values and philosophy and theology that I wanted to instill, and then we brought our first child home from the hospital and I was like, how do I keep him alive …? Hold on a second, I need to care for this child who can’t even hold their own head up. Or, I need to help this child learn how to talk.


And then you get so focused on the basics, their basic early childhood development, how they’re doing in school …


I would say I had not given a lot of conscious thought to the big picture, but what I do try to do is think about their formation now and what that means for the long run.


Whatever direction they’re being called, they need to be rooted in the faith, practicing [self-donative] love, to not be afraid to ask questions, and to know that they can trust me to tell them the truth, that I’m not going to lie to them, and that I’ll try to explain things in a way they understand, but I’ll also challenge them and give them the big picture—that’s more my focus. Whatever direction they’re headed, they’re going to need that foundation. It’s more focused on foundation, than vocation consciously, if that makes sense.”


And my friend was right on.

Laying the foundations for your children’s vocations is not another thing to “add” to your already over-flowing to do list. Your children’s vocations are, fundamentally, gifts that have already been planted by God, deep in the soil of your family’s day to day rhythm of life.

Sometimes you hear stories about our parents or grandparents’ generations, how their parents hoped and prayed that God would call one or more of their children to the priesthood or religious life. Such prayers were like rain, which falling on the foundation—on the fertile soil of those families—did yield thirty, sixty, or a hundred fold.


And Familiaris Consortio, Pope St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation on the role of the Christian family in the modern world, says more or less the same thing: “Indeed, the family that is open to transcendent values, that serves its brothers and sisters with joy, that fulfills its duties with generous fidelity, and is aware of its daily sharing in the mystery of the glorious Cross of Christ, becomes the primary and most excellent seed-bed of vocations to a life of consecration to the Kingdom of God.”


From my perspective as a young adult Catholic. a recently ordained priest, and my brief experience so far in vocation ministry, I have become convinced that the main issue of the Church today when it comes to vocations is not a lack of orthodoxy, liturgical sensibilities, or programs. Those are important. But the biggest issue, at least as far as I am concerned, is human formation.


As you probably know from your own experience of marriage, your own families of origin had and continue to have a significant influence—for better or for worse—on how you and your spouse relate to each other and to your children. The love that you did or did not receive, the wounds that you unknowingly carry or for which you have only just begun the lifelong journey of healing, these directly affect your ability to be human, to receive, and to give love. They directly affect your own vocation as parents. That should not discourage us, because there is no “perfect” family situation. Even from the few anecdotes we find in Scripture about the life of the Holy Family, it is clear that they had their fair share of not so “perfect” situations too!


God has brought you and your spouse together and entrusted your children to your care. As we explore together some aspects of Catholic parenting and vocations in this series, let’s try to keep before our eyes this fundamental fact: laying the foundations for your children’s vocations is not another thing to “add” to your already over-flowing to do list. Your children’s vocations are, fundamentally, gifts that have already been planted by God, deep in the soil of your family’s day to day rhythm of life. You and your children are on a journey of discovery, to discover the gift that they (and you!) are.



Let us pray for one another,



Father Raph CR

 

Fr. Raphael is a member of the Congregation of the Resurrection, and was ordained to the Priesthood on June 15th, 2019. He has been assigned to vocations ministry for his community, and his contributions to the Me & My House Catholic Parenting blog will be on the subject of Catholic Parenting and Vocations. In his spare time, Fr. Raph enjoys listening to music, cooking, visiting friends, and thought-provoking conversations.