“Mom, what is a vocation?” “Father, how can we foster religious vocations in our family?” “Should I be a Benedictine or a priest of the Society?” Questions are flying around the mystery of vocations. Anyone is sooner or later confronted with the choice of a state of life and the real answer we have to give touches a mysterious reality. If this question was not on your lips, it will probably be on the ones of your children, grand-children or even friends, as is it the one of every Christian soul. Every Catholic has to “truly seek”1 to do God’s will.
- 1. Saint Benedict's rule
What is a vocation?
If we explain what the vocation is, we will at the same time delimit the ground where vocations can be raised and fostered.
One of the best definitions of a vocation can be found in a sermon of Archbishop Lefebvre in Albano: “A vocation is not the result of a miraculous or extraordinary call, but rather the blossoming of a Christian soul that is attached to its Creator and Saviour Jesus Christ by an exclusive love and shares His thirst to save souls.”
The Sovereign Priest gives the answer to the question of a vocation only to the ones who are living from a concrete and profound life of charity. Blessed are the houses where we pray the rosary together, blessed are the houses where we are not afraid to talk about our Faith, blessed are the houses where the Mass and the sacraments, especially the sacraments of confession and Holy Communion, are the first priorities. The young child when its reason slowly wakes up needs to develop this strong and real relationship with our Lord Jesus Christ. This relationship is not optional. The priest, the various kinds of religious and nuns are men and women of God. Especially the priest who, so-to-say, participates in the divinity of God, participates in the grace of hypostatic union. This grace is at the center of the mystery of Jesus, the God incarnate. God wants some men to participate in it, to continue on earth the mystery of his Incarnation.
A vocation is then the blossoming of the Love for our Lord Jesus-Christ. God calls certain souls to a closer intimacy and participation in the mystery of the Redemption. But are they ready to answer? How do we help these souls answer a potential call with generosity?
How to protect and foster it in our times?
The family is the pre-seminary and has to protect and raise vocations, at least give them the opportunity to hear the call of God and answer in the best way with the help of God’s grace.
There are obstacles to the answer to the call of God or even to listening to it. These obstacles are directly obstacles to the union with our Lord as the vocation is nothing else than the blossoming of a soul attached to our Lord by an exclusive love. God gave us three counsels to reach perfection faster and more surely: poverty, chastity and obedience. If these virtues do not reign at home, it will be harder to hear the call of God, and - as we will see - they are particulary attacked nowadays.
First of all, poverty, or at leastthe spirit of poverty. It means that we are using what we possess as a mean for something higher: the salvation of my soul. In our materialistic world, there is a danger to be surrounded by too many goods and to orientate our will and our love towards these temporal goods instead of loving the Creator of these creatures. Simplicity, spirit of poverty is a breeding ground for vocations.
Our world is fighting against chastity and it is maybe where man is the most wounded after the original sin. Internet, so-called smartphones, are certainly not helping and present a real and important danger for the soul and chastity. This can destroy a vocation.
In our family we need a certain and concrete discipline, from modesty and the way we dress to the use of the internet.
The whole family has to work together on it; no one is safe. After the rosary, after dinner, the router of the wi-fi goes off, everybody leaves his smartphone (children still in high school do not have one) in the living room or in the kitchen, no internet in private rooms but only in public spaces. We don’t speak here about television, Netflix and these kinds of things because if you really love our Lord and your family you already threw these things away a long time ago!
The education of modesty will lead to the love of purity, normal growth of charity.
We could call it: “respect for authority”, especially the authority of two fathers: the father of a family and the priest. Vocations will come out of families were the father is respected, and obeyed. This is true for the mother as well. The family is the first school of obedience, it is where we learn how to leave our own will aside and go confidently to the ones whose first priority is the salvation of our soul and our union with God. Priests are what they are, they have their faults, however they participate in the grace of union, they are the mediators between heaven and earth. We owe a deep respect to this reality which we approach by Faith.
We need to encourage vocations and help our children answer the call of God by a Catholic atmosphere in the home. A home where the spirit of poverty reigns, a family that protects the beautiful virtue of purity and a place where the fathers are respected. A deep relationship with our Lord will developed by a strong desire to become a saint. Our Lord calls elite souls to his service.
Let your home be Nazareth!
Father Michel Rion