I have been thinking of writing on parental roles in discerning children's vocations for a few days, and had two people bring this up in different parts of the country.
Please consider what I have to share here.
First of all, young parents, and by young I mean under fifty, lack confidence in their parenting. Society has beat confidence to pulp by undermining the role of the parent in the formation of the child. Governments now want and do take over the formation of children, which is not only in contradiction to the teaching of the Church, but natural law.
Parents are the first, primary and God-given teachers of their children.
Second, parents are given graces in the sacrament of marriage for raising children. Part of the raising of children is the formation of virtue, which some of you have read in my long series last summer of 2013.
Third, parents are given gifts, insights into guiding their children to the specific vocations to which God is calling them.
Finding out one's vocation is not great hidden secret. Indeed, in times past, parents not only saw the gifts of their children clearly but guided them directly into various vocations.
Which leads me to the next point. Parents not only are given gifts to help their children discern their vocations, but parents have a duty to do so.
Why parents are so reluctant to guide directly their own children is a mystery to me. And, if someone is giving advice to the contrary, those people are just plain misguided.
Parents have duty to ask God specifically what a child is called to do and to help that child fulfill that vocation.
Any parent who neglects prayer and guidance is not fulfilling the role and authority given to them by God. A parent who neglects his duty to raise a child in holiness, guiding that child to the vocation God has in Mind, may lose his salvation for thwarting God's plan.
Now, here is the rub. The parent must be objective and holy to see clearly what God has in mind for the children. A parent cannot merely want a child to be a doctor, for example, because of pride and status, or money and security.
A parent cannot push a child to live out the faded and unfulfilled dreams that the parents once had but lost.
A parent cannot push a child away from a vocation to the priesthood or religious life because that parent wants the child in his life, or wants grandchildren, or the name of the family to be carried on in posterity.
No, no, no...
God will genuinely show the parent who is sincere about seeing God's plan for their children's lives. God will show the parent what to do, how to plan the child's life, education, formation.
This is the natural plan of God, to work with the parent so that the child becomes the man or woman God intended them to be. God even calls children to be and to do things from the womb.
Why young parents back off from this important role is a mystery to me. Children need and deserve guidance from holy parents who want the child to be what God desires.
Some saints had excellent parents who cooperated with God's plan. Some did not. One thinks of the excellent parents of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, who are both recognized as being holy-his mother is a blessed-, and the awful, selfish parents of St. Thomas Aquinas, who are not blesseds.
Catholic parents must pray daily for knowledge and to push this responsibility totally on a youth, no matter how old, is irresponsible.
Whether a child is called to marriage, a religious vocation or the priesthood, that child needs the direction of holy parents
Some parents pray that God would show the child his or her vocation, when the prayer should be that God would show the parents and the child the vocation to which God has called that child.
God gives many hints and even large indications as to what He wants a child to do and to be. And, if a child rebels against holy parents who have sought out the will of God, woe to that child. Disobedience and rebellion are not normal.
Pray and pay attention, parents, as that is your role.