The Question All Catholic Parents Need To Ask Themselves About Their Child’s Vocation

by Family, February, Movie Reviews and Recommendations, Vocation

I was speaking with a friend of mine the other day and he asked me where my fourteen-year-old son was at with his discernment of the priesthood.  He wanted to know what I was doing to encourage him to be open to this vocation.  My initial response was….to cringe.  “What do you mean?” I thought.  Not because I was afraid that my son might consider discerning priesthood, but instead because I truly feel that me praying for him to become a priest is downright foolish and shameful.  Let me explain. The word vocation comes from the Latin word, vox, to call. 

What right do I have to encourage my son to be something I have decided is right for him instead of God?  Instead, I believe that the real question should be,
“What am I doing to encourage my son to be open to God’s calling in his life?”
This question will bring about real answers. This question will allow him to experience joy in his life.  This question will lead him to holiness. Isn’t that what we truly want for our children?  If not, we better begin questioning our motives. 

As a youth minister, I met many parents who dreaded the thought of their children becoming a priest or religious, and I also met many parents who decided for their children that they should enter priestly and religious life.  Both sides give pause for concern.  Some told me they did not want their child to become a priest because they feared they would not have grandchildren.  Others would tell me that they have always wanted their son to be a priest and said they must enter the seminary.  If we are honest with ourselves, we must be willing to be open to God’s voice in our child’s life no matter what it is. 

Consider a vocation as a path to holiness

My responsibility as a parent is to lead this young man or woman to holiness. My responsibility is to foster, in as many ways that I can, opportunities for my children to encounter the Lord. If I can lead them to Him through my prayer, through my actions, through the things that I expose them to (whether it be inviting priests or religious over for dinner, or going on retreat, or having open conversations about the married and consecrated men and women we surround ourselves with) I have done my part. It is then that they will begin to lay their lives at Our Precious Lord’s Feet. They will begin to surrender everything to Him, their fears, their joys, their wants, their dreams, their talents, their weaknesses, the things that they hold dear and the things they hope to avoid at all costs.  It is only in this surrender, that they will begin to be open to the Lord’s voice in their lives. This openness will generate opportunities for my children to question in a natural way, “Lord, do you want me to be a priest?”, or, “Lord, I see that nun over there and she is joyful, I wonder if you are calling me to that same lifestyle,” or, “Lord, I was praying with my mom and dad the other day and the love they share is beautiful, are you calling me to marriage?”  All these prayers need to be encouraged. None of them should be deemed more powerful or holy than the other. If our children hear discouragement in our voice because they are open to marriage, instead of priesthood, we have done them a disservice and vice versa.  

That being said, family life in our current culture is a bit off track and entering into any vocation can be bumpy and downright messy.  We all know priests and married couples who were ill intentioned at the onset, or maybe did not receive the correct support or formation in the discernment process.  Yet, these complications are nothing compared to God’s grace. His Grace has and continues to mature all of us and thankfully, His grace is all that matters.

An invitation to vocation through a film

In the documentary, Vocation, we discuss the key to truly hearing God’s call is in surrendering to Him.  We are each called to be priest, prophet and king in our Baptism. Each of these roles are lived out, no matter which) vocation God calls us to. Personally, after being in seminary for over three years and surrounding myself by countless men who have encouraged and led me closer to the Lord, I desired to be a priest.  However, when I was there, I found myself uneasy about my decision to remain on this path. I did not want to do my will, but the Lord’s. Bishop Arthur Serratelli, the then rector of my seminary, once a shared with me the words of St. Ignatius, “In the midst of confusion, make no changes.”  This encouragement allowed me to focus on what mattered most. Looking back, I see that my desire then and now is to help other people encounter the Lord and lead them to Him. This desire remains and is satiated in the calling that God has called me to in my marriage. Everyday, I act as a “priest” of my domestic church, our home, leading my eight children and most importantly my wife.  If I live out my vow of loving her with the heart of Christ without any limit to my giving and place myself on the altar, in the same manner a priest does, I am living out my Baptismal call to be a priest, prophet and king. This is my calling. How unhappy I would be, had I pressed on with my will, instead of the Lord’s. I am so thankful that I was given the opportunity to truly pursue a deeper understanding of my vocation and to determine whether God was calling me to priesthood. That formation and experience has provided me with greater confidence in my vocation to marriage.  It has allowed me to never look back.  I would never have been able to experience that opportunity if I was not encouraged to first and foremost, surrender myself daily to the Lord, instead of being pressured by those around me to become or not become a priest. 

Every Baptized Catholic is called to be holy. We are called to be holy through a chosen vocational path that leads us all the way to Heaven. God is calling you right now to deepen your vocation and if you have yet to decide, to explore how the Lord is inviting you to follow him. I pray that our new movie Vocation will be a point of grace for men considering priesthood and laity who are served by priests and produce priests in family life. Every Catholic is called to live deeply and wonderfully their vocation.   

Where Can You Watch Vocation?


Guest Author: Michael J. Rose, Jr.

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