I hope that you often hear a prayer for vocations offered at Mass. We need more priests. Jesus implored us to pray for more workers because the harvest is in abundance. But I am also certain that each of us is called to do more than pray.
I do not believe that our priest shortage is because God has stopped calling men to the priesthood. Rather, young men have stopped hearing and stopped answering this call. As parents we are called to impart the faith to our children. We are to give them the faith foundation that allows them to hear God’s call. He is calling each of them to a vocation. For some it will be to the vocation of marriage. For some it may be to the vocation of consecrated religious life. For some it may be the vocation of being single. And for some it is the vocation of the priesthood. Our families, our little domestic churches, are the font of vocations.
Our parish community must support families as they nurture vocations. The parish should enable families to build a life centered around the faith. Parents cannot teach what they do not know. If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know that I frequently lament the sad state of catechesis of Catholic adults. Therefore, it is up to the parish to bolster the religious education of both adults and children. This takes time, talent, and treasure.
Over the last four weeks I have attended Mass in three different parishes. Every single one of them had an announcement from the ambo as well as a blurb in the bulletin pleading for religious education volunteers. If you are reading Catholic blogs, you are light years ahead of most of the Catholics in the pews. You are qualified to teach. Remember: God does not call the equipped. He equips the called.
Religious education efforts will foster vocations. You may plant the seed of faith in a child who is not getting this formation at home. You may strengthen and develop the faith of a parent so that he can nurture the vocations of his children. Your efforts and sacrifices for your faith will inspire others to make efforts and sacrifices of their own.
Of course, all this doing is not a replacement for prayer but done in conjunction with prayer. Children are never too young for us to pray for their vocations. I would like to share a prayer I try to say daily for my children.
I bring to you my children. (insert names here)
I ask that you send your Holy Spirit into their hearts and give them the grace to hear your call. May they discern the vocation to which you are calling them. If you are calling a child to the vocation of marriage, I also ask you to send your Holy Spirit into the heart of his or her future spouse. May this spouse respond to your call and with my child seek to serve you faithfully. May they keep their faith in Christ anchored in your One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
I ask this through the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary and through your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.