Parents' perspectives on a Catholic vocation journey
Our parish does infant baptism on the first Sunday of the month. So today after the noon mass there were 6 babies and a large number of friends and relatives in attendance. I didn’t think any more about this until I read the article below and remembered the day my seminarian son was baptized. Do you remember that day long ago when you brought your child to church to be baptized?
Of all my children, I know the exact date of my son’s baptism because it was Christmas Eve 1995. That year, December 24 was a snowy Sunday. With relatives in for the holiday, it was the perfect time to have him baptized. Having a new baby at Christmas is so special because everything revolves around baby Jesus. Holding my son in my arms, he was the perfect baby as he slept so peacefully just like baby Jesus in the Christmas carols. I remember the lovely smell of the chrism which lasted for days on his little head.
On the day of your child’s baptism, you make solemn promises to raise him in the faith that are a joy to make. Just as on your wedding day, it is a joy to say your marriage vows. But, you really don’t know how hard those vows are until you have to live them out. When your child is small, hearing his prayers at bedtime and reading bible stories can be a joy. But paying for catholic school tuition or getting a child to religious education classes can be struggle.
This article has been edited to focus on the promises of baptism by the parents to take on the role as the child’s first vocation director in the domestic church of their own home.
Children’s First Vocation Directors – Their Parents
Rev.Michael L.Griffin 6/24/2009 (www.sfcatholic.org/communication/bulletin.aspx)
Sioux Falls, South Dakota (Bishop’s Bulletin) – Many years ago I had the opportunity to speak with a priest who had quite a reputation as a vocations director. While we sat at lunch a few of us younger priests and seminarians began to ask him what he did to bring about so many vocations.
He said he always spoke about vocations during the celebration of baptism. He always reminded the parents and Godparents that Christ was giving this child a vocation, right there, right at this moment of new life in baptism. He said he invited those present to rejoice in this vocation, whatever it might be.
One of us asked, “Do the parents appreciate that?”
His response was simple and interesting, “They do at that moment, I just hope they do later.”
I was a little taken aback by the question and the response. It had not occurred to me that any parents would not be proud and pleased in their children as they grow up and embrace the life God gives to them.
I have come to discover that there are parents who will sometimes actively stand in the way of their son or daughter as they explore the possibility of serving Christ, their brothers and sisters, the Church, as a priest, religious sister or brother.
I have sat with young men and women who have cried as they spoke about the pain they feel in their hearts because one of their parents refuses to allow them to be open to the possibility.
I would imagine if I had the chance to ask why, the parent would have their reasons…
These parents stood at the [Baptismal] font of new life and promised to raise their child in the faith. This they did embracing their child as a gift and recognizing their role in guiding and blessing the child’s life, but also recognizing that the child’s life is not theirs. This is a profound and amazing relationship, and a source of blessing to all when embraced in love by parent and child.
In this powerful relationship, the voice of God and the gift of His call are given to be nourished and revealed.
It is a hope that if children are called to the Sacrament of Marriage, that they see this vocation lived with love and joy by their parents, and the couples they see around them at Mass.
It is a hope that if children are called to the priesthood or religious life, that they would see the joy of these vocations lived out around them in their parish life, but also come to appreciate the gift of self-offering and the gift of love within their home. [emphasis added]
Each night, as parents bless their children, each day as they teach them to pray and to listen and to grow, the voice of God becomes clearer, more easily heard. That voice might call them to enter the Church as a bride or groom, or as a religious, or as priest, but the first steps are taken in the domestic Church, in the home.
…We are all called to be vocations directors, but in a powerful way, parents are the first, and greatest of all vocations directors. This is both a challenge and a glorious gift.
Please know that the authors of this blog pray daily for parents of discerning sons and daughters to find peace and understanding.