by Matthew Higgins, Assistant to the Vocation Director
Children have minds of their own. They do their own thing and love to find ways to become their own person. This makes it difficult for parents who want to lead them down the straight and narrow way towards discovering their vocation. Here are some tips for those who would love to see their children embrace God’s plan for their lives.
Pray with your children
You can pray with your children beginning the day you find out you are pregnant. Introducing the Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be to your unborn child is the first step toward fostering their vocation. As their ears and auditory organs develop, the first words they hear will be words drawing them to the Father. As the child grows, he or she can join in the prayers and contribute to family intercessions. This can be a great way to teach them how to pray and enforces a spirituality that places God’s will before our own.
Pray for your children
Take time to pray apart from your children. This will help them to realize that we all need time for personal relationship with the Lord as well as communal prayer. My father would always talk about how his father would get home from work and go to his room to pray with his Bible and Missal. This practice had an influence on my father and in turn, on me. This time was spent developing a relationship with the Father. When you pray for your children, do not give God a list of demands or place the Holy Spirit in a box (Lord, please let my son grow up to be a priest) instead surrender your child’s will to the will of the Father. Ask the Lord for the graces you most need to be a good example-showing your children how to love the Lord with your whole heart, mind, and soul.
“dear parents … God has entrusted to you the peculiar task of guiding young people on the path to holiness. Be an example to them of generous fidelity to Christ. Encourage them to "put out into the deep" without hesitation, responding eagerly to the invitation of the Lord. Some he calls to family life, others to consecrated life or to the ministerial priesthood. Help them to discern their path, and to become true friends of Christ and his true disciples. When adult Christians show themselves capable of revealing the face of Christ through their own words and example, young people are more ready to welcome His demanding message, stamped as it is with the mystery of the Cross.”
-Blessed John Paul II
Expose your children to various religious communities, missionaries, and priests
While it is important to belong to and become active in your parish community, seek out local religious communities and diocesan programs. Bring your children to age-appropriate events within those communities.
Be an example
Living out your vocation with joy is a great way to lead others to do the same. Showing great respect and appreciation for priests can easily open your children’s eyes to God’s call. Children will generally be interested in what you are interested in. What is important to you will, in turn, be important to them. If practicing your faith and living out God’s call is important to you, there is a good chance it will have an influence on them. If you express admiration for the priesthood, your children will likely follow.
“Families are not only the privileged place for human and Christian formation; they can also be ‘the primary and most excellent seed-bed of vocations to a life of consecration to the Kingdom of God,’ by helping their members to see, precisely within the family, the beauty and the importance of the priesthood and the consecrated life” –Pope Benedict XVI
Nurturing vocations in the home is something that can be started as early as conception, but it’s never too late to start. As your children grow, it will be more difficult to incorporate new routines, however we can take baby steps. A community service trip with the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal could be a great way to get the ball rolling. Inviting your parish priest over for dinner is another good idea. There is no sure-fire way to inspire your children to respond positively to the stirring of the Spirit within them. Be creative—you know them better than anyone. The only constant that must remain is that it is done in love with complete surrender to the will of God. Remember, they are His children…you just have to lead them to Him.
This blog will contain resources, reflections, homilies, and articles to help you in your discernment.