Faith-Family-Football-Food…as means of discernment?

This week as we anticipate and celebrate Thanksgiving, we reflect upon the many blessings bestowed upon us with hearts full of gratitude and joy. 

By: Office of Vocations

What are your thoughts as Thanksgiving approaches and there’s more time to spend with family building holiday memories? Is it Norman Rockwell-esque images of everyone sitting around the table, listening as the young and old share what they are thankful for this year? Or is there a dread of “family bondage” versus “family bonding,” as everyone shovels food in their mouths to get back to the football game, avoids interacting with Aunt Millie, and where there are more electronic devices than side dishes at the dinner table?


When you are trying to discern God’s plans for your life, you might want to re-visit your idea of family time. Our family members, those closest to us, often see things we don’t and can offer important insights as we try to move forward in discovering God’s path for us. They are the ones with whom we’ve grown up, share DNA, share meals and memories, and usually have our best interest at heart.

We often think of growth in terms of something that is measurable: “Look how tall I am getting,” “Look how strong I am,” or even, “Look how much I have learned!” But there are many immeasurable aspects to our growth, and our family relationships are one of them.

Have you looked back over experiences with family members to realize what you’ve learned from them? Has hearing your father or mother talk about how he or she decided to choose a particular career path or settle in a particular place been helpful to you? Has hearing of an older sibling’s mistake perhaps saved you from falling into the same? Coming together to unite behind a common cause, or saying grace before meals, or praying the rosary together can help us to pause and reflect about what’s really important in life.

Discernment is a personal matter between you and God, and it is important to seek the counsel of trusted priest or religious when considering your vocation. At the same time, the dinner table is a fantastic place to pray, talk about vocations in general, seek advice, or just say what’s on your mind.

If you are feeling a call to a priestly or religious vocation, there’s a chance mom, dad or siblings may not understand where you are coming from; but that doesn’t mean they can’t offer advice and a different perspective. Maybe your parents never considered a different vocation, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t discern their faith, their vocation to marriage, or their spouse.

No family is perfect, but all have something to offer. What can you do to foster healthy relationships and even spiritual growth among your family members? Can you propose grace before meals, or just have a better attitude toward spending time with each other?

This Thanksgiving, put down your smart phone, take out the earbuds, and spend a moment to reflect on what you have learned from all those years of sitting around the family table. If you can, offer a prayer of gratitude for priests and religious, and pray for each of your family members in their own vocations.

Thank you for taking the time to consider your vocation. Be open with God, and He will bless you greatly!

If you would like to talk about your vocation, contact Fr. Jaffe at or (703) 841-2514.

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