Friday, January 17, 2003

What you can do about vocations

Recently on Amy Welborn's blog there was a story about a parish in Baltimore that has had a married woman assigned to adminstrate it. This caused a bit of a stir in her comments section over the propriety and necessity of such a step. Given the lack of vocations to the priesthood, having lay administrators may become more common than it already is.

Rod Dreher of National Review made a good point in the comments: BUT: folks, where do you think priests come from? They come from our families. The Church doesn't mint them at a factory. We have *got* to start having more kids, raising kids to think of themselves as possibly having a vocation to religious life, and so forth. Otherwise, we will all be going to mass celebrated by circuit-riding pastors. Would you rather go to a parish that's administered by a lay person, with a priest coming in to celebrate mass and hear confession ... or have no parish at all? Because that's where we're headed in just a few years. All this bitching and moaning is not going to do us any good in the absence of vocations, which -- alas for us! -- cannot be whined into existence.

Amen, Rod. Everyone has a responsibility to encourage vocations. Here is how you can do it:

1. Have some kids. God said be fruitful and multiply. One kid isn't multiplying, it's dividing. Recognize that children are a gift from God, treasures destined for eternal life. Don't you want heaven to be crowded?

2. Encourage your children to consider religious life. Do this often. Pray for it. Tell your kids that although being a doctor or lawyer may be a good life, following Christ is better, and that it is a great privilege to be able to follow him in religious life.

3. Encourage your sons in particular to love the Church and to consider whether they can see themselves marrying her as priests. No girl you could ever marry will be as beautiful as Christ's Church.

4. If you are holding out hope for women priests, get over it. This will never happen, since Jesus' intention to restrict holy orders to men has been defined infallibly. This may be an intellectual cross for you to bear, but the act of submitting your mind to the mind of Christ is a spiritual discipline that will bear much fruit. Jesus is smarter than you are!

5. Realise that other Catholic families are failing in their job to sow the seeds of vocations. This means that we don't only have a responsibility to our own children, but to those of these other families. When you talk to children, make sure to point out to them that God could be calling them to serve him as a priest, a deacon, a monk or nun, or as a brother or sister. Point out also what a wonderful life it is to be able to give all to Christ. We've got to take care of each other in this, since so many are failing.

6. Pray for vocations, with your children. If you don't pray in common as a family every night, start, and then include a vocation prayer. If the kid sits there for ten years or so listening to "God grant us that many will follow your call into the priesthood and religious life," chances are at some point he will say "Maybe God is calling me!"

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