Category Archives: Vocations
So much of the world, especially western society, promotes a childless lifestyle. In fact, it glorifies it. A life without children is so often seen as the new American Dream, where all you need to do is focus on yourself and perhaps a significant other. People believe that without children, you can do whatever makes you happy in life without needing to worry about something or someone holding you down. Children are seen as a burden to many, and being a parent as a lifetime chore.
Many view children as horrible, crying, screaming, dirty monsters that ultimately make life worse and prevent us from being happy, wealthy, and free. Maybe it is because they have seen families struggle financially, emotionally, or physically after having children. The idea of sacrificing for someone that is dependent, vulnerable, small, and needy is as much of a turn off as running into a burning building soaked in gasoline.
I guess it may be easy to forget that we all were babies, children, teenagers.
I believe that it isn’t that these people hate babies and children, but rather they hate the suffering that may come with having children. Children require time just as any other relationship.They need constant care and attention, and this means we need to sacrifice the time that we would normally spend doing things for ourselves. Children and babies push parents to limits of frustration, sleep deprivation, and so on.
I can say that because I know that my own parents struggled many days because of us kids. I know there were days my parents were exhausted after shifts, and yet they still invested the time into caring for us. I know it meant they had less time to do the things that they wanted to do, but they still found joy in doing what they had to do, which was loving us and making sure we had what we needed on a daily basis. Twenty plus years later, I can confidently say that my parents still loved us even when things were hard.
I am pregnant with our baby girl, Evangeline, and already Mike and I brace ourselves for ‘advice’ from people encouraging us to stop at one child, or to maybe try for one boy and one girl and then avoid more in every possible way. It is especially disheartening when the advice is coming from loved ones, or from people who have children and seem to voice regret from having one or two too many.
Parenthood means loving far beyond yourself, dying to yourself every single day. I may only be 6 months into my pregnancy, but even now, Mike and I have had challenges. We have had to make time for appointments. Mike has had to give up eating certain foods because some things just don’t sit well with me. I don’t sleep the same anymore. I can’t run on the treadmill for an hour every day so I can have a totally in shape, model body. Mike has to endure a woman that wears the baggies clothes most days because her normal clothes just don’t fit the same anymore.
This is only the beginning of changing challenges. The truth is though, I don’t need a perfect body, a perfect sleep schedule, or money to blow on material goods. Those things will not make me or my family holy.
I speak for Mike and myself when I say that we anticipate redemptive suffering which is something that many refuse to even acknowledge exists. We can anticipate sleepless nights. We can anticipate strain on our relationship. We can anticipate temper tantrums, marker drawings on the wall, spilt drinks, and pulled out hair. I do not want to deny us of sacrifices we can give to God out of love for the souls entrusted to us. I do not want to miss the opportunity to try and live as the Holy Family lived on earth and now eternally does in heaven. I do not want to say ‘no’ to God for his gift of life.
We need fathers. We need mothers. The world needs moms and dads who actively demonstrate love for the family that goes beyond wanting to fulfil their own desires. The World needs to see spouses who can’t have children naturally to seek to be parents to children without mothers and fathers or to the community around them. The World needs to see that parenthood is a blessing, not a curse; that children are gifts from God and not simply things we can take for ourselves as a right to have, nor deny when God lays them in our hands to care for them. If your call is to be married, to give yourself to your spouse in fullness and in love, that desire has a natural, God-given purpose: life-giving love, which may bring with it, parenthood.
Let us pray for all those discerning their vocations, that they may discern with willing and open hearts. Let us pray that couples discerning marriage are open to life. Let us pray that God may grant strength to parents struggling with their state of life, spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Finally, let us pray for our world, that parenthood, children, and life may be celebrated and that we may all be thankful for the gift to emulate the love of the Trinity and of the Holy Family.
This past weekend, I had the absolute honor and pleasure of attending the Ordination to the Priesthood of one of my great friends, Fr. Stephen Marsh. He was ordained this weekend with three other men. Though it was a long journey, Fr. Steve has finally arrived, and this new chapter in his life has only just begun.
While being at his Ordination Mass, I was overcome with such gratefulness for our Priests and awe for their sacred office and how God is present to us in them. However I was also saddened to know that they are so often taken for granted, and that many Priests do and have grown cold.
When we look at Salvation History, we see throughout it the great lengths that God has taken to give us this gift of Salvation, to show us his unconditional love for us, as well has His mercy and justice. We see this in a big way in scripture with the levitical priests, who offered sacrifices on our behalf. We also see this through God giving the Israelites the Manna in the desert to nourish them.
With the death and resurrection of our Lord, this did not end. It changed. With our Priests, they offer the one unbloody sacrifice of our Lord on the cross, made present at the altar, for us and with us, at Mass. This was commanded by our Lord Himself that it be done. Jesus offers Himself to the Father and also nourishes us in the Eucharist, as he is the new Manna, the Bread of the Angels. He is present in the Eucharist in His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.
What a great responsibility and gift our Priests have been given, being entrusted with this sacred duty of offering us the Sacraments, without which we would not be saved. It brings me to tears, this fact that Our God loves us so deeply, so that He deigned to make real to us now, make available to us now, through his Priests, our salvation. When we sin, and put this salvation at risk, with a firm resolution to never sin again, and a good confession, we can return to our Lord. What great mercy!
St. Francis de Sales said “O my child, bethink you that just as the bee, having gathered heaven’s dew and earth’s sweetest juices from amid the flowers, carries it to her hive; so the Priest, having taken the Saviour, God’s Own Son, Who came down from Heaven, the Son of Mary, Who sprang up as earth’s choicest flower, from the Altar, feeds you with that Bread of Sweetness and of all delight.’
We need to remember this gift always, and pray always for our Priests, that they remain good and holy, and always advancing in virtue. St. John Chrysostom said that “If priests sin, all the people are led to sin. Hence every one must render an account of his own sins; but the priests are also responsible for the sins of others.” What a great and divine duty our Priests have.
Please keep the newly Ordained Priests in your prayers, as well as all of our current Bishops, Cardinals, and Priests, that the love of God and His Church in those who have grown cold may blaze bigger than ever before, and for the rest, that their love for God and His Church would continue to strengthen and grow. May we always be grateful for our Priests, as without them, we would not have this great gift of Salvation available to us.
The greatest glory we can give to God is to do his will in everything. – Saint Alphonsus Ligouri
Newly married and starting fresh is a struggle on its own. In addition to this, lets add living in a new city, learning a new way of life that is filled with its own ups and downs, and learning how to love and live in a way you never have before. My life these past few months has been filled with change and I am trying to move forward as a married woman. However, all too often, I find myself asking ” What does God want me to do now?” I think we can all relate to asking ourselves this very question and spending hours of our lives just trying to come to grips with an answer.
Quite often, the people around us are the ones we want to please most. We want our family and friends to be proud of us. We also want to make ourselves happy with the decisions we have made along the way. There are lots of different opinions you may gather on who you should be, what you should do, and the ‘right way’ to do things. It can lead to some pretty rough internal turmoil, especially when you want to please everyone around you and also make yourself happy.
But do we pause and take a moment to ask ourselves: What would be most pleasing to God?
Trying to hear a solid answer is hard. We are hesitant and we make excuses for ourselves to try to run from the path that looks too demanding. We are faced with decisions in our career, our vocation, our friendships, and our family. Sometimes we just don’t really feel motivation to pray for help or to just listen.
Time and time again, I think of how Mary and Joseph imitate this submission and humility to the will of God. We can all recall Mary’s great “I do” to the will of God when she accepted the role of mother to the Messiah. Fatherhood was thrust upon Joseph practically overnight just as he had decided to dismiss Mary after he had found out she was pregnant. The angel came to him and told him to not be afraid and to take Mary as his wife. He show great courage in doing that, but also in fleeing to Egypt and keeping them safe there to protect Christ from Herod.
We can learn by their example that the calling for us will be great. It might be hard, and it might be nothing like we could have ever dreamed of. God wants the very best for us. Ultimately, He wants us to be holy, happy, and to be with Him for all eternity. If we truly want to achieve what will be ultimately good for our souls then we must seek to have souls that are in tune to the will of God . In Uniformity with Gods Will, St. Alphonsus says ” Those who love God are always happy, because their whole happiness is to fulfil, even in adversity, the will of God.”
The other day at mass, I prayed to God so that I would know his will, and that he would give me the strength I would need. I had been frustrated, scared, and tired of waiting for a response that was direct obvious. In prayer, I said ” God, I want what you want for me. I know what I desire in my heart, but is it what You want for me? Over and over again, I heard Him in my heart say:
” My Child, why do you worry? Trust me, and do not be afraid.”
Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. 1 Kings 19: 11-13
It can be hard to hear that voice of God sometimes. We truly need to quiet our hearts. Like children, we ask ” Are were there yet?” and “Why?” and “Where are we going?” But we must learn to be patient and to listen. We must unceasingly pray. Frequently go to confession. Go to adoration. Be with Him and listen to Him. Rest your heart in the hands of Christ. Ask of Him everyday that the will of God be done. Be ready to lay down your life for the sake of His will.
God provides for every living thing, and he will provide for us too ( Matthew 6:26). Offer to Him all your suffering and rejoice in it, for it is in redemptive suffering we are able to give our lives to God.
Below are some resources that may aid you in discernment.
According to Saint Ignatius, we must be aware of how the spirit moves within our hearts when we reflect on the choices before us. Check this article for more information on Ignatian Spirituality and how it can help us discern the will of God.