Monday, 14 July 2014
A Long Post on Vocations
On Vocations, Again
This is a long post. Bear with me as I try to cover many points which have been observed in the Catholic communities with which I am familiar.
Those who are single and lay are called by God to share eternal life with Him. Those who are priests, nuns, sisters, brothers, are called to share eternal life with God. Married people are called to share eternal life with God. There are saints on and off the calendar who are from every walk of life: carpenters, farmers, doctors, publishers, actors, lawyers, businessmen, musicians, composers, writers, and housewives.
Salvation is offered to all humans. God gives all sufficient grace for salvation. The “victim attitude” of so many Western Catholics creates confusion. Some Catholics actually believe that people cannot avoid serious sin, or that the rules of the Church are merely too hard for “normal humans”.
Until priests begin to teach natural law philosophy and the truth that God desires all people to get to heaven and provides them with the grace to do so, this victim mentality will continue.
Our salvation has been assured by the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ, but whether we each individually respond to grace is another question.
Today, I am thinking of the middle-aged and the elderly Catholics, who because of the mostly wishy-washy catechesis and poor sermons have fallen into the idea that some people are victims of fate or circumstances, or even health problems, and therefore cannot be “saved”.
Are we witnessing the gross apostasy of the majority of Catholics in the West?
It dawned on my this morning that those who are younger than 60 had some sort of marriage prep, or, to be more accurate, those who prepared for marriage in the 1980s on had to attend pre-Cana classes. Now, some of the presenters themselves were heretics regarding contraception, but, on the whole, Catholic married in the past thirty years were at least made aware of two facts: the existence of Humanae Vitae, and the truth that each person in the marriage helps, and because of the vow of marriage, must be dedicated to bringing the other person in the couple to heaven.
Most Catholics over the age of 60, unless they listened to EWTN or kept up with the apostolic letters of the popes, or read the encyclicals, have no clue; it seems, of the supernatural nature of their marriage relationships. How this lacuna of the realization that married is a vocation for salvation came to be is not the focus of this post.
However, it is time for priests and catechists to focus on the spiritual relationship of the husband and wife as the key to holiness in the domestic church. Some teachers, like Scott Hahn, have done this. But, such a lesson must be taught from the pulpit, on Sunday, for all to hear.
This need for teaching that the husband brings the wife to heaven and the wife brings the husband to heaven must be emphasized.
I have heard young men say that it is the duty of the wife to be religious, but not the husband. This is not only a terribly “Mediterranean” view that religion is only for women, but a view which is false.
The husband is the priest in the home, the leader of the faith. Without this leadership, the role falls to the woman, who must step into the breach and carry on, but in great suffering, and sadly, sometimes with opposition.
The husband and wife shepherd the children to accept their God-given vocations. Sadly, I know too many Catholic families where a job is more important than the real vocation to which the child is called.
Boys and girls frequently are told by their parents to succeed, to become wealthy, or at least comfortable. Few parents actually pay attention to the grace given to them as parents to know, understand and nurture the vocation of the child.
Example of failures reveal the pain and even loss of salvation for many people who have been told to go into banking, business, or another field, not because God called them, but because the parents either want to live a life of success through the children, or because Mammon, not God is god in the family.
It is the duty of both parents to cooperate with God concerning the vocations of their children.
Why they do not do this may be because they do not see that their own vocation as husband and wife are calls from God, not accidents, full of the graces given on their wedding day, for the final goal-the joy of heaven.
I know a man who is extremely talented as an artist. His family did not let him go into art, as it was not on the parental list of acceptable “jobs”. The man pursued approved jobs, and has spent his life in great unhappiness. He has given up painting.
I know a woman who was called to engineering. She had a steel trap memory for the type of knowledge necessary for engineering. Yet, her middle-call parents had a list of acceptable jobs, and her vocation to be creative and happy using her math and scientific skills fell into dormancy.
A flower-arranger, a gardener, even teachers, are not acceptable “jobs” for many Catholic parents who only want their children to go into medicine, dentistry, banking or some other lucrative position rather than looking carefully at the gifts of these children.
I was thrilled in the monastery last year when the Mother General mentioned to me how fortunate the nuns were to have a member who was an artist. This talented nun painted the shields in the chapel representing the saints of Tyburn. The nun had painted other works of art, as well. Her gifts blessed the monastery for years, and in extension, the Church.
To be what God created a person to be and to do, and I believe we all have many, many gifts to use for His Glory, is the call of each of us.
Now, one can get to heaven even in a thwarted vocation, but God’s Kingdom missed out on a stone in the structure of the Church because from all eternity God had intended that stone to be part of His Church.
I ask parents, no, I beg parents, to pray about their children’s vocations and not decide for them what God wants them to do and to be.
I ask married couples to stop being so busy about many trivial things and begin to concentrate on their real vocation-bringing each other to heaven, sanctifying each other through the relationship made holy in the sacrament of marriage.
In the 2013 class of priests ordained in America, 50% stated that they did not have the support of family in their decision to be a priest. 50% did have support.
I know too many young men who, if they are supported, it is with a half-hearted nod to God.
Catholics do not understand that the seminaries no longer take care of all the needs of the students. These institutions are poor, not rich. It falls on the parent to provide for many things.
One father told me, “I did not expect to have to pay for more years of education for this boy. It is a long haul.” The honor of having a son who will be a priest escapes this dad. He is proud of his other sons in business, but is having trouble with the call of this son.
Sad. And I know some sems who get no financial support from families, families which are in the financial position of helping.
Not cooperating with God in encouraging the vocation of a child may be a sin. It may lead to the loss of the soul of the person who did not follow his call. Most likely, the great joy and happiness that person could have experienced here on earth will not be so because of a vocation not followed.
Pray daily, parents, for the graces God will and does give you to encourage your children to be, to do, what God intended them to do.
Pray daily, parents, to set aside your own dreams and expectations of your children.
Pray, couples, to see how God wants you to lead your spouse to heaven. That He does want you to do this is the reason why you are married-your mutual salvation, and the salvation of any children who may come into the family.
If anyone thinks something is “missing” in one’s life, if anyone feels incomplete, that person must pray that he or she will die in the vocation to which God has called that person. It is never too late for God to find that room in the mansion He foresaw and prepared for you. It may be that a woman cannot join a contemplative order for reasons of age, but God still has a plan for you to fulfill your role as a contemplative, even in the world. If a man or a woman think they are too old to be married, realize that marriage is first and foremost for one’s salvation, and that unity may or may not create children. God is in charge and has created each one to be and to do what He intended.
To be continued…