Today marks the beginning of the National Vocation Awareness Week. This week is dedicated to the promotion of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated religious life. It is important that each of us pray for these religious vocations. However, it would be a mistake to think that only priests and consecrated religious have a vocation.
The word vocation comes from the Latin word vocare which means called. God has called each of us to a particular vocation: priest, consecrated religious, married, or chaste single. If we want to promote religious vocations we need to promote all vocations. Consider question six from the Baltimore Catechism:
Question: Why did God make you?
Answer: God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.
The particular way each of us is called to serve God is our vocation. When we understand that the purpose of our lives is to serve God in the unique way He has designated for each of us, the consideration of the priesthood or consecrated religious is a logical step. When we view marriage as more than just a personal choice for own pleasure, but rather a calling to serve God joined to our spouse in a unique union, then we will orient our marriage and our family in God's service. Responding to God's call is an act of generosity. The primary motivation is total self-giving rather than self-interest.
The family as the domestic church is the first place children see this focus on living to serve God. A simple way to emphasize this is for parents to rephrase the common question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Instead, ask your children, "What do you think God wants you to be when you grow up?" Decisions about jobs, moves, or any other significant family event should first be considered with a family prayer. This way children can see that all family actions must be made in accordance with the call to serve God.
So while it is important for us to use this upcoming week to pray for all of our priests and consecrated religious, both present and future, it would be a mistake to think that these vocations can be considered in isolation. Strong religious vocations are the product of strong family vocations.