This objection is a good example of how the vocation of parenthood and priesthood have different but closely related demands. You have more in common with your priest than you think. If you haven’t watched the video in the post “Everyone has 3 Vocations”, click HERE to get a little background.
Vocation vs. Job
Your job is what you do to earn a living. You may love it or hate it. But your primary vocation is a spouse and parent: it is who you are. As your vocation, it is who God created you to be. For us as laity, your job and your vocation are 2 separate things. For a priest, they are one and the same. I don’t know if that is better or worse, it’s just a fact. The activities of their day are seamlessly woven into who they are as a person. We can leave our work at the office and switch into parent or spouse mode at home.
Have you ever seen a working mother take a phone call from her child at work? She completely changes: her voice, her language, her work persona falls away instantly into being “Mom”.
Look at your vocation as a parent. Do you ever stop being a parent? No, being a parent is a 24/7/365 job whether you are sick or exhausted from a long day at work. Every parent knows that the second shift starts the minute you come home from work and open the door. That shift can go all night if kids are sick or are having a problem regardless if you have to get up and go to work in the morning.
How is this different for a priest who gets called in the middle of the night to go to the hospital to see a dying parishioner, but still needs to get up and say 7am mass? It’s not. It is just a different vocation of being a father.
When you look at life from a vocation point of view, you will begin to see more similarities in the vocation of parent and that of a priest. Yes, children grow up and the role of a parent changes. Do you ever stop worrying and supporting them? If your adult married daughter called you at 3am would you not go to her if it was needed’?
Your job may be a sales manager which is a full time position and then some at certain times of the year. If you have ever been in a “salaried” position you know that never means a 40 hour work week. We have a family member who is a tax accountant whom we rarely see between January and the end of April. As a corollary, no, you probably are not going to see your son the priest between Palm Sunday and Easter.
Do you realize that priests are required to have time off and even go on vacation as well as retreat? To remain effective in any role, you need time off to relax, pursue hobbies. play sports and spend time with family and friends. The church is wise enough to know that no one can function in any role without balance.
Both my husband and I work in what are considered “helping” professions. My husband works far more than 40 hours per week, but loves his job and finds it fulfilling. At times, he works crazy long hours, but does so with the knowledge that he is helping others.
When you find meaning and purpose in your work, the long hours don’t seem like such a burden. Knowing that you are making a difference helps you to push through the times of fatigue and stress. What you do becomes who you are.
Over the years, both my husband and I have had periods of unemployment with the changing economy. When supporting a family, unemployment creates tremendous stress and anxiety which only escalates with time. Growing up, our children have seen the positive and negative impact this can have on day to day life in the family.
It is funny now to think that if our son does becomes a priest, he will never be laid off or down sized for lack-off work!
Please know the authors of the blog pray daily for parents of discerning sons & daughters to find understanding and peace.