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Ahhh....Vocation Day. Have you ever attended one? My family and I had the privilege of visiting a Vocation Day event put on by a local homeschool group just last week. A beautiful day like this always brings with it many promises of inspiration and enlightenment, and I have yet to attend one that has ever disappointed! :)
A Vocation Day event is one that provides an opportunity to develop one's view of their vocation, offering insight and inspiration to those who may not yet have put much consideration into the topic. The focus tends to lean heavily towards Priesthood and Religious Life, which makes sense considering that models of marriage and single life are much more readily found in our culture.
The truth is, so many of our youth (and ourselves, really!) have so much less exposure to priests, monks, brothers and nuns than we did even 30 years ago. To be honest, I haven't really stopped to think about just how true this is and what the effect has been on our culture - that is, until I attended the Vocation Day last week.
Listening to these particular priests and nuns talk about how God directed them to their vocations to serve Him in such an intimate way hit me differently than it had in past Vocation Days. An underlying theme, a theme that literally crossed the world through their stories, began to emerge - for me, at least.
For the speakers, this theme was no surprise; in fact, it had become a well-trod path.
What did each of these particular speakers have in common? Exposure to priests and those in the religious life were a very heavy influence in their lives as young people. Several had relatives or close friends who "cheered them on" so to speak in their pursuit of discerning God's will for them in this direction. Even those with one or more dissenters who remained close to them during their time of discernment could not deter them from their final calling.
Praise God, average numbers across the United States are increasing, most dramatically in the vocation of religious life for women. Still, we are far from where we used to be and still far from where the the Catholic Church in the rest of the world is presently.
But, the tide is changing. One priest stated that there is a statistic that shows that where one priest appears from a parish, there another will come. Interestingly, many priests come from the same parishes over and over again.
What are these parishes doing that set the stage for fruitful discernment? I am not sure. But, perhaps it has something to do with these young men and women returning to their home parishes every once in a while to encourage others to consider following in their footsteps. The more "normal" a lifestyle appears to be, the more it becomes accepted and attractive. (Sadly, we are seeing this daily as our culture rolls with the changing norms that are leading poor souls away from God; how good it is to know that this same process can be used effectively to bring God's Kingdom here and lead souls even closer to Him!)
And, even though a small percentage of seminarians actually take their final vows for priesthood, a much larger amount are re-entering the world with a deep-rooted love for God and all that the Church gifts us, ready to pass on this catechesis and knowledge to their families and those they meet.
They say that knowledge is power; I would say that the knowledge of God and the Church certainly holds a power that would be impossible to find anywhere else!
PLEASE, encourage any youth you know to discern his/her vocation. Support him/her if needed.
When young people do this, they will at the very least be drawn closer to the God Who has their life's design already in mind.
And how could anyone go wrong with that? :)
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May your Lent be truly fruitful and fill you with longing for His Resurrection!
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Hi! I'm a Catholic mom who loves to encourage and support others in their journey to live the beauty of our Catholic faith in a modern world. It can be a struggle, no doubt, but God has given us the tools we need! Join my family (both immediate and extended!) and me as we take on this incredible journey of our path to holiness.
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