This week we celebrate National Vocations Awareness Week promoting vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life through prayer and education, and to renew our prayers and support for those who are discerning these particular vocations.
By: Rev. J. D. Jaffe, Director, Office of Vocations
In the Diocese of Arlington, many of our priests can point to their pilgrimage to World Youth Day or attendance at a conference as the moment or place in time where their call to the priesthood was more deeply known.
Yet, in his Message for the 31st World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Saint John Paul II reminds us that,
“the family can be considered a garden or a first seminary in which the seeds of vocation, which God sows generously, are able to blossom and grow to full maturity.”
In Optatam Totius, Blessed Paul VI writes:
“The duty of fostering vocations pertains to the whole Christian community, which should exercise it above all by a fully Christian life. The principal contributors to this are the families which, animated by the spirit of faith and love and by the sense of duty, become a kind of initial seminary, and the parishes in whose rich life the young people take part.”
Therefore, we can certainly say that vocations grow on trees… family trees.
By building up their own domestic church, the family; parents as well as grandparents and godparents can cultivate the seeds of faith that are placed in their children’s souls at Baptism. As baptized Catholics, we must continue to foster an environment that teaches about and witnesses to the love of God; where all are encouraged to be open to God’s will and to respond generously to Him; where a vibrant faith is lived and passed on to the next generation. All of these things can do wonders to open young people’s hearts and minds to discernment of their unique vocation, given to them by our Lord.
Here are seven ways you can help:
Speak often and speak well.
Mentioning priests, religious sisters and brothers and of their vocation in the world in conversation showcases a positive vision of consecrated life and keeps this as an attractive option for young people.
Share their stories.
There are numerous fascinating saints and wonderful books, short stories movies and even comic books that show the beauty of their vocation and the amazing ways the Holy Spirit has worked through them.
Encourage children to play dress up as a religious sister or brother, just as they would naturally play house and pretend to be mom or dad. Make a habit out of sheets and a little rope. It is a fun way to explore and identify with these vocations.
Extend an Invitation.
Spend time with priests and religious sisters and brothers. Invite them over to your home or visit them at the convent, monastery or parish. The more comfortable someone becomes around religious and priests the more comfortable they are with the possibility that they are called to this life.
Pray for vocations.
Pray each day for the continued sanctity of family life, and that more people are open to the priesthood and the consecrated life as religious sisters and brothers.
Join a prayer group.
The Saint Therese Vocation Society sends each member a free calendar with the names of more than 100 men and women from the Diocese of Arlington who are in formation for the priesthood or religious life so that you can pray for them by name.
Affirm good qualities.
Finally, invite someone you know to consider the possibility that God might be calling them to the priesthood or religious life. We cannot tell someone which vocation we believe God is calling them to, but we can affirm qualities we see in them that would make a good priest or religious sister or brother and invite them to consider it as an option.
Remember, our vocations are a gift from God, not something to be approached with fear or trepidation. Let us continue to pray for those discerning their vocation and those that are striving in holiness to live out their vocation for the greater glory of God.
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